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Understanding The Dead Sea Scrolls 


The City of David: A Guide to Biblical Jerusalem 

Judaism in Stone: The Archaeology of Ancient Synagogues 

The Dead Sea Scrolls After Forty Years (with James C. VanderKam, P. 
Kyle McCarter, Jr., and James A. Sanders) 


The Art and Craft of Judging: The Opinions of Judge Learned Hand 

Ancient Israel: A Short History from Abraham to the Roman 
Destruction of the Temple 

Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism: A Parallel History for the First Six 


Recent Archaeology in the Land of Israel (with Benjamin Mazar) 

Archaeology and the Bible: The Best of BAR (two volumes) (with Dan 

P. Cole) 

Understanding The Dead Sea Scrolls 

A Reader from the Biblical Archaeology Review 

Edited by 

Hershel Shanks 

Originally published by Vintage Books 
A Division of Random House, Inc. 
New York 

First Vintage Books Edition, July 1993 

Copyright © 1992 by Biblical Archaeology Society 

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright 
Conventions. Originally published in the United States by Vintage 
Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and 
simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, 
Toronto. Originally published in hardcover by Random House, Inc., 

New York, in 1992. 

Portions of this work were previously published in Biblical 
Archaeology Review and Bible Review. 

Grateful acknowledgment is made to Jonathan Cape for permission to 
reprint excerpts from The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception by Michael 
Baigent and Richard Leigh (published in the United States by Simon 
and Schuster). Reprinted by permission. 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Understanding the 
Dead Sea scrolls: a reader from the Biblical archaeology review / 
edited by Hershel Shanks. — 1st Vintage Books ed. 

p. cm. 

“July 1993”— T.p. verso. 

Originally published: New York: Random House, cl992. 

“Portions of this work were previously published in Biblical 
archaeology review and Bible review" — T.p. verso. 

Includes index. 

ISBN 0-679-74445-2 (pbk.) 

1. Dead Sea scrolls. I. Shanks, Hershel. II. Biblical archaeology review. 


This book is truly a collective effort. It is a pleasure to express the 
gratitude of the Biblical Archaeology Society for the contributions so 
many people have made to this book. 

First and foremost, our thanks go to the authors of the various 
chapters and to the photographers of the illustrations. 

Two of the authors have died — my friend Yigael Yadin and Harry 
Thomas Frank. I wish they were here to see their words reprinted in 
this form. 

Only someone who has coordinated a project like this and seen it 
through to fruition can appreciate the contribution of the publisher 
of Biblical Archaeology Review and Bible Review, Susan Laden — a 
tireless worker of infallible judgment. 

The managing editor of Biblical Archaeology Review and Bible Review, 
Suzanne F. Singer, organized the pictures and gave her final approval 
to the editorial product. She was ably assisted by Nita Sue Kent and 
Carol Andrews, who copyedited the entire text. 

The charts and maps were prepared by Auras Design. 

A special expression of thanks goes to Professor James C. VanderKam 
of the University of Notre Dame and Professor Lawrence H. 
Schiffman of New York University for serving as informal consultants 
and technical advisors. That there are remaining errors is, as I 
express below, my fault, not theirs. There is no way to record, 
however, the many errors from which they saved us. 

Is there more? Yes, people had to search for the best photographs 
that could be found. The text had to be input and proofed, 
biographies of the authors had to be prepared, citations had to be 
checked. It is with great gratitude that we thank Janet Bowman, 
Coleta M. A. Campanale, Jennifer Horn, Cheryl R. W. McGowan, 
Katherine Munro, and Judith Wohlberg. 

My experience is that few authors are satisfied with their publisher. 

We are an exception. We are grateful for the work of our Random 
House editor Jason Epstein (whom Norman Mailer has accurately 
called the “bona fide mandarin of American letters”) and his assistant 
editor Maryam Mohit. 

Robert B. Barnett, Esq., handled our formal relations with Random 
House — not only successfully but amiably. 

To all, we express our thanks. 

I have elsewhere written that it is impossible to write about the Dead 
Sea Scrolls without making errors. I have no doubt that that is the 
case here. I can only record that the responsibility for the errors is 
mine and apologize in advance. If the readers of Biblical Archaeology 
Review and Bible Review are any indication of what I can expect, I 
will hear in no uncertain terms from readers of this volume. I hope 
we have an opportunity to correct these errors in future printings. 

Hershel Shanks 

Editor, Biblical Archaeology Review and Bible Review 
February 1, 1992 
Washington, D.C. 


Hershel Shanks 


Harry Thomas Frank 

Frank Moore Cross 



Lawrence H. Schiffman 


James C. VanderKam 


Raphael Levy 


Hershel Shanks 


Yigael Yadin 


Magen Broshi 


Hershel Shanks 


Hartmut Stegemann 


Frank Moore Cross 

Frank Moore Cross 


Ronald S. Hendel 


James C. VanderKam 


Hershel Shanks 


Otto Betz 


Lawrence H. Schiffman 


P. Kyle McCarter, Jr. 



Hartmut Stegemann 



Avi Katzman 

Hershel Shanks 


Hershel Shanks 


About the Authors 

Sources and Dates of Original Articles 

Illustrations and Charts 

1. Dead Sea Scroll Caves 

2. Settlement at Qumran 

3. The Shrine of the Book 

4. The Shrine of the Book, interior 

5. The Isaiah Scroll 

6. The Scrollery 

7. Cave 1 

8. The Bedouin shepherds of the first discovery 

9. Scroll jars 

10. A scroll from Cave 1 

11. Cairo Genizah where the Damascus Documents were found 

12. Cairo synagogue housing the genizah 

13. Column from Damascus Document 

14. The Temple Scroll at recovery 

15. Fragments of the Temple Scroll 

16. Interior of Cave 11 

17. Unrolling the Temple Scroll 

18. The Temple Scroll 

19. Plan of visionary temple and courts 

20. Comparison of visionary temple and walled Jerusalem 

21. Yigael Yadin 

22. Mr. Z 

23. Discovery sites 

24. Local Texts Theory 

25. Canon of Hebrew Bible and excluded texts 

26. Fragment from book of Samuel 

27. Fragment from Deuteronomy 

28. A water installation at Qumran 

29. The Copper Scroll, before cutting 

30. The Copper Scroll, after opening 

31. The Copper Scroll, on display in Amman 

32. The Copper Scroll, a new photograph 

33. Pattern of damage on the War Scroll 

34. The Psalm Scroll 

35. The Temple Scroll 

36. Unjoined fragments from Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice 

37. Father Jean Starcky at Qumran 

38. In the Ecole Biblique 

39. J. T. Milik, 1950s 

40. John Allegro, 1950s 

41. John Strugnell, 1950s 

Of Caves and Scholars: An Overview 


The Dead Sea Scrolls are the greatest manuscript discovery of the 
twentieth century, certainly as concerns biblical studies. Amidst 
confusion and speculation, they have ignited the imagination of 
nonscholar and scholar alike. It is easy to understand why. A library 
of over eight hundred texts, they cast a direct light on the critical 
period more than two thousand years ago out of which both 
Christianity and rabbinic Judaism emerged. 

In 70 A.D., the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and its Temple. That 
year has functioned as a kind of impenetrable wall to students of 
rabbinic Judaism and early Christianity: It has been extremely 
difficult to go behind it. Out of the variety of Judaisms that vied for 
influence while the Temple still stood, after 70 there emerged the 
single normative Judaism we call rabbinic, the Judaism we know 
today. The only other form of “Judaism” to survive the tragedy of 70 
was Christianity, which, as transformed of course, came to dominate 
the Western world. 

Yet the earliest post-70 document of rabbinic Judaism, the Mishnah, 
dates to about 200 A.D. While Paul’s letters were written before the 
Roman destruction of Jerusalem, other Christian literature, except 
perhaps the gospel of Mark, was not. This is why it has been difficult 
for scholars to understand how these two major movements — 
rabbinic Judaism and Christianity — emerged out of the extraordinary 
varieties of pre-70 Judaism. How did rabbinic Judaism and 
Christianity develop from the soil, the same soil, of pre-70 Judaism? 

Suddenly, in our time, the Dead Sea Scrolls provide scholars with a 
vast library of over eight hundred volumes that sheds a direct light — 
undistorted by later editors with their own ideologies and biases — on 
pre-70 Judaism. The promise — by no means yet fully realized — is a 
clearer understanding of how these two major religious movements 
developed in their formative stages. 


The term Dead Sea Scrolls is imprecise. In a narrow sense, Dead Sea 
Scrolls refers to the inscriptional materials found in eleven caves in 

the Wadi Qumran on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. But 
scholars often include manuscripts found in other nearby sites along 

the Dead Sea — Wadi Murabba ‘at, Nahal Hever, Khirbet Mird, and 
even Masada. On occasion, the term also includes documents found in 
the Wadi Daliyeh north of Jericho. For the most part, however, this 
book will discuss the Dead Sea Scrolls in the narrow sense — that is, 
the documents found in eleven caves in the Wadi Qumran. The 
documents from nearby sites (except Masada) date from different 
periods than the documents found in the Wadi Qumran and therefore 
raise entirely different problems. Dealing with the Wadi Qumran 
finds is enough for one book. 

Another problem is the meaning of the word scroll. The first seven 
scrolls plus fragments of others were found in a cave in 1947 by a 
Bedouin shepherd. Thereafter, the Bedouin and archaeologists 
scoured other caves looking for other manuscripts. Between 1952 and 
1956, ten other caves were found in the Wadi Qumran containing 
inscriptional materials (I say “inscriptional materials” because one of 
the eleven caves contained only a small inscription on a piece of 
pottery — an ostracon). In these caves, which were subsequently 
numbered 1 through 11, hundreds of other manuscripts were found. 
But only a handful were intact scrolls. Depending on what one means 
by intact, between three and five intact scrolls, in addition to the 
seven intact scrolls found in Cave 1, were eventually recovered. The 
rest were mere fragments. So it can be a little misleading, unless you 
understand their fragmentary nature, to describe these documents as 
scrolls. They were once scrolls, but all that is left are mere scraps, 
pieces often no bigger than a fingernail. 

Of the over eight hundred different manuscripts scholars have 
identified from the eleven caves, some consist of only a single 
fragment. In others, there are many pieces. In some cases, the 
fragments are large. In others, they are very small. Yet even the scraps 
can tell us a great deal. 


1. The Dead Sea Scroll caves are in the cliffs at center. At right is the Wadi 
Qumran leading to the Dead Sea to the east. Beyond is ancient Moab, now 


David Harris 


2. The settlement at Qumran as excavated. Some of the caves where scrolls were 
found are located in the spur at left. 

Werner Braun 

Clearly these are the remains of an important library in antiquity, but 
where the library came from and who wrote the documents is a 
matter of dispute. Some scholars say they were written in a nearby 
settlement the remains of which is called Qumran. Others say that 
the library must have come from Jerusalem, brought here for 
safekeeping when the Romans attacked the city, ultimately 
destroying it in 70 A.D. In either event, it is clear that the Qumran 
manuscripts constituted a vast and varied library for its time. 

The documents were written between about 250 B.C. and 68 A.D., 
when, according to its excavator, the nearby settlement of Qumran 
was destroyed by the Roman army in anticipation of its attack on 
Jerusalem. Although that is when the documents were written, some 
may have been composed much earlier. Indeed, the earliest 


documents among the Dead Sea Scrolls were actually written before 
the establishment of the nearby setdement with which they are often 

The period of Jewish history in which the Dead Sea Scrolls were 
written is one of extreme complexity, documented only in 
ambiguous sources. Governments were unstable and often failed to 
insure social tranquility. Violence erupted frequently. Religious 
politics played a major role in securing social stability — or in 
destroying it. In the second century B.C. the Maccabees, a family of 
Jews from Modi’in in central Palestine rebelled against the Assyrian 

(Seleucid ) overlord Antiochus IV Epiphanes who then ruled the 
land of the Jews. The ultimately successful Maccabean-led liberation 
of the Jerusalem Temple is still celebrated in the Jewish festival of 
Hanukkah. In fact, the struggle for an independent Jewish state lasted 
for a quarter of a century, finally culminating in the establishment of 
the Hasmonean dynasty of Jewish rulers. Even before the Maccabean 
revolt, bribery had led to the appointment of high priests who were 
not of the Zadokite line established by King Solomon. This 
usurpation, it was charged, continued under the Hasmoneans. The 
Hasmonean rulers combined both political and religious authority 
and were bitterly opposed by various religious segments of the 
population, not only for what was regarded as a usurpation of the 
high priesthood, but also for the unique synthesis of Hellenism and 
Judaism they espoused. The Hasmonean dynasty was followed in the 
mid-first century B.C. by the Herodian period, named for its most 
illustrious figure, Herod the Great (37-4 B.C.). 

In the Hasmonean period, numerous, often competing Jewish 
religious groups, sometimes referred to as sects, had begun to form. 
They continued to vie for influence in the Herodian period. The best 
known of these were the Pharisees, the only group (other than the 
Christians) to survive the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. 
Thus, Pharisaic thought became the foundation of rabbinic Judaism, 
the Judaism that has survived to this day. But numerous other 
Jewish groups jostled one another in the pre-70 period. These 
included the Sadducees and Essenes, described by the Jewish 
historian Josephus (c. 37-100 A.D.). 

The Sadducees were a priestly, aristocratic party commanding 
significant wealth and political prominence. They served as 
diplomats as well as military leaders. They also claimed to be the only 


legitimate priests, apparently taking a stricter approach to many legal 
matters than the Pharisees. Unfortunately, the Sadducees left no 
literature of their own — unless it is reflected in the Dead Sea Scrolls. 
Thus we don’t know how the Sadducees would have described 
themselves. All our descriptions — the most important come from the 
Jewish historian Josephus and the New Testament — are mildly or 
intensely antagonistic. 

The Pharisees are better known. It is they who ultimately shaped 
Jewish life to our own day. The name appears to derive from the 
Hebrew word parush, meaning “separated” or “standing apart.” Most 
of what we know about the Pharisees, however, comes from later 
rabbinic references. The references to them in the New Testament are 
obviously antagonistic — and biased. The Pharisees appear to have 
been the most popular Jewish group among the populace. Although 
it is commonly thought that their determinations of religious laws 
were more moderate and lenient than those of the Sadducees, this is 
by no means invariably the case. Thus it is difficult to characterize 
the difference in their beliefs in a sentence or two. The Pharisees did, 
however, accept the Oral Law as the authentic amplification of the 
Written Law of Moses, unlike their rival Sadducees. 

The Essenes were, by comparison with the Pharisees, a smaller 
group. Oddly, however, Josephus describes them in greater detail 
than either the Pharisees or the Sadducees — perhaps because he 
thought his readers would be fascinated by a group exhibiting such 
curious and exotic behavior. The sect was governed by a tight 
organization with rigorous rules for acceptance and clearly defined 
penalties. Although Essene groups lived all over the country, 
including Jerusalem, a small subgroup of them lived in a settlement 
in the desert by the Dead Sea. Their lives were dedicated to strict 
observance of the law. We shall learn a great deal more about them in 
the discussion of the sectarian documents found among the Dead Sea 

These three groups were not the only ones active in Jewish life. 
There were numerous others — the Hasidim, the Zealots, the Sicarii, 
the Boethusians, and toward the end of this period, the early 

The Dead Sea Scrolls can be divided into two groups: biblical texts 
and nonbiblical texts. Between 20 and 25 percent of the documents 
are biblical texts. Every book of the Hebrew Bible is represented, at 


least by a fragment, except the book of Esther. Whether by 
coincidence or not, Esther is the only book of the Hebrew Bible that 
does not mention the name of God. 

The biblical texts are easier for scholars to deal with than the 
nonbiblical texts even though only small fragments of a book may 
have survived. The biblical text is known from later copies that 
provide a kind of template on which to fit the Qumran fragments. 
This is also true of some of the nonbiblical texts, such as the books of 
Enoch and Jubilees, that were previously known to us. 

But many of the nonbiblical texts were entirely unknown to us before 
they were found in the Qumran caves and it is often difficult to 
arrange the fragments of these texts in any meaningful order. 

The nonbiblical texts are remarkably varied and can be subdivided in 
several ways, for example, by genre: hymns and psalms, biblical 
commentaries, wisdom literature, legal texts, a letter, 

pseudepigrapha, a designation of hidden treasure. Another way to 
subdivide them is by whether a text is a so-called sectarian text or 
not — that is, does it represent the concepts and ideas of the particular 
religious group that collected this library? 

Some texts — the sectarian ones — seem to reflect the rules and beliefs 
of a unique sect or group of Jews. Scholars refer to this group as the 
Qumran sect. But what was this sect? The usual answer is that it was 
the Essenes, mentioned not only by Josephus but also by Pliny the 
Elder (23-79 A.D.) and Philo (c. 20 B.C.-50 A.D.). But other scholars 
question this identification. Two chapters in this book vigorously 

debate the issue. Those who challenge the Essene identification 
argue that the so-called sectarian texts often seem inconsistent with 
Essene doctrine as reflected in independent sources and are even 
inconsistent among themselves. For example, how do the militant, 
even warlike, statements in some Qumran texts square with the 
commonly held view that the Essenes were pacifists? 


3. The Shrine of the Book, Jerusalem, where the seven intact scrolls from Cave 1 

are housed. 

David Harris 


4. The Shrine of the Book, interior. The great Isaiah Scroll is wound around the 
lighted drum in the center of the upper floor. 

Werner Braun 


5. The great Isaiah Scroll in the Shrine of the Book. 

Werner Braun 

Other questions concern the Qumran settlement itself. What is its 
relationship to the scrolls? Were the scrolls written there? Did the 
library belong to the settlement? Or were the scrolls brought to the 
caves by others who may or may not have had some relationship to 
the settlement? Qumran was excavated between 1951 and 1956 by 
Pere Roland de Vaux of the Ecole Biblique et Archeologique Frangaise 
in Jerusalem who died in 1971 without writing a final report on his 
excavation. De Vaux, a Dominican father, regarded the settlement as a 
kind of monastery. Professor Norman Golb of the University of 
Chicago believes it was a military fort. Scholars now preparing the 
final excavation report on the basis of records left by de Vaux suggest 
the site may have been a winter residence, a kind of desert plantation, 
for wealthy, and perhaps powerful, Jerusalemites. 

The site contained a great many water installations. But were they all 
drinking water cisterns? Or were some for bathing? And if so, were 
some for ritual bathing? 

De Vaux excavated part of a large cemetery adjacent to the site and 
found among the nearly one thousand graves the remains of two 


females and a child. Were they simply female servants or does this 
destroy the theory that the monks who lived here were celibate and 
that Qumran was entirely male? 

The seven large intact scrolls from Cave 1 were published reasonably 
soon after they came into scholarly hands — by Israeli and American 
scholars. Over the years, the fragmentary texts from other caves (as 
well as from Cave 1) were also published — with the exception of the 
fragmentary texts from Cave 4. But problems with the Cave 4 texts 
would eventually discredit the entire publication enterprise. 

Cave 4 presented a special problem from the outset. Like most of the 
finds, Cave 4 was discovered by the Bedouin. It proved to be the 
richest of all the caves, with over five hundred different manuscripts 
— but all in tatters. Not a single intact scroll was recovered from this 
jumbled mess. Yet this cache represented over five-eighths of the 
Qumran texts — approximately five hundred of a total of 
approximately eight hundred manuscripts. 

While the number of discrete manuscripts found in Cave 4 is 
approximately five hundred, the number of fragments is much 
larger. Estimates range from ten thousand to one hundred thousand, 
the most common being about fifteen thousand fragments from this 
cache. In effect, the fragments constitute a giant jigsaw puzzle — or 
more accurately, five hundred different jigsaw puzzles with 90 
percent of the pieces missing. 

But this was not the worst of it. If the Bedouin who discovered Cave 
4 sold the fragments on the antiquities market to various dealers, it 
would be impossible ever to assemble the fragments in one place, and 
scholars would never have been able to work on the surviving pieces 
of the jigsaw puzzles. 

To avoid this, an arrangement was made with the Bedouin in the 
early 1950s to purchase the fragments from Cave 4 for one Jordanian 
dinar per centimeter (then $5.60). The money to purchase the 
fragments was provided by a group of so-called national schools — 
that is, foreign schools in east Jerusalem devoted to archaeological 
and biblical research. Among those participating were the French, 
the Americans, the English, and the Germans. The Vatican was also a 
source of funds. It was agreed that after the fragments had been 
assembled into discrete documents and then published, the originals 
would be divided among the various national schools that provided 


the funds to purchase them. In this way, the cache was kept together 
and assembled in what was then a private museum in Jerusalem, the 
Palestine Archaeological Museum (now the Rockefeller Museum). 

To work on the texts, an international team of young scholars was 
assembled under Jordanian auspices since at the time Jordan 
controlled what is now called the West Bank where the scrolls were 
found as well as east Jerusalem where the contents of the caves were 
assembled. The team would include no Jews and the task of 
assembling it fell to Pere de Vaux. The German member of the group, 
Claus Hunzinger, soon resigned, leaving a seven-man team of young 
scholars, mainly Catholic clerics, who set to work fitting the pieces 
of the jigsaw puzzles together. 

The work took place in a long museum room that they called the 
Scrollery. Some of the conditions there would today be regarded as 
horrendous, but that was then. Little effort was made to prevent 
deterioration of the fragments. No record was made of the original 
fragments in their original condition. Pictures show the young 
scholars working in a room with the windows open and the sun 
streaming in, holding fragments in their hands while smoking 
cigarettes. As the young scholars — the oldest was thirty-two — sought 
to divide the fragments into discrete documents and to look for 
possible joins, any one of them was free to move fragments around 
under the glass plates. 

By the late 1950s, the team of scholars had substantially completed 
the task of arranging the fragments. I say substantially completed 
because the task of arranging the fragments will never be complete; 
there will always be room for improvement. The next generation of 
scholars will always find new connections. And indeed today’s team 
of scholars continues to improve the arrangements. 

With the fragments thus arranged into discrete documents, the team 
divided the five hundred different texts among themselves for 
publication. In hindsight, this was an act of enormous hubris and 
greed. They clearly took on more work than they could complete in a 
lifetime. Only one scholar on the team, John M. Allegro of England, 
published his entire assignment, but his work was so bad that an 
article correcting it is longer than his original publication. On the 
other hand, Allegro did get his texts out — which is more than can be 
said for any of the others. 


By the late 1950s the team succeeded in making transcripts of the 
texts by simply writing down the letters in an easily readable form as 
one might study a handwritten letter by a poor penman or one 
written in eighteenth-century style. In the case of the Qumran 
fragments, the letters are often difficult to read — not so much 
because they were originally obscure, but because of the ravages of 

As the transcripts were being completed, arrangements were made to 
have four other young scholars create a concordance of the 
nonbiblical texts, listing each word in the text, indicating the 
document in which it appeared, the column, the line, and the 

adjacent words. This concordance would be an invaluable tool for 
anyone attempting to translate and understand these often obscure 
Hebrew and Aramaic texts. 

This brings the story of the Cave 4 team up to about 1960. In the next 
thirty years the team managed to publish less than one hundred of 
their five hundred texts — approximately 20 percent of their 
assignment. The four hundred unpublished texts comprise 
approximately half of the total number of Qumran manuscripts. 

According to a scholarly convention that is nowhere written or even 
referred to in writing, a scholar who is assigned to publish a text has 
complete control over it. That person may take as long as he or she 
likes to publish it. It can be seen by others only with the scholar’s 
permission. No one else is permitted to print the text. 


6. The Scrollery in the 1950s, with fragments from Cave 4 under glass plates and 

the sun pouring in. 

Israel Antiquities Authority 

The Cave 4 team asserted these “publication rights” with a 
vengeance. Several of the original team members have died and 
“bequeathed” their “publication rights” to trusted colleagues, who 
then themselves exercise the right to exclude others. Requests by 
outside scholars to see various texts have been turned down. Team 
members have even “given” texts to their graduate students, while 
excluding senior scholars. 

Over the years, the discontent of excluded scholars mounted. In 1977, 
Oxford don Geza Vermes, one of the excluded scholars, made his 
now-famous prediction that the Dead Sea Scrolls publication project 
would become “the academic scandal par excellence of the twentieth 
century.” Ten years later, Vermes commented that what he had 
forecast had become a reality. 

In 1985, as editor of Biblical Archaeology Review, I attended a 
scholarly conference at New York University at which scroll editor 


John Strugnell addressed his audience of Qumran scholars. Strugnell 
was the only member of the team there; he alone had access to the 
texts. He spoke with an authority only he could command. Morton 
Smith, a distinguished professor from Columbia University, called 
the situation “disgusting.” Other scholars were obsequiously grateful 
for whatever Strugnell dribbled out to them; inwardly they were 
seething with resentment. 

That marked the beginning of a six-year campaign by Biblical 
Archaeology Review to free the Dead Sea Scrolls. 

In all fairness, it must be recognized that as the pressure mounted, 
the editing team responded by speeding up the process. After John 
Strugnell became chief editor in 1987, he expanded the team, adding 
Jews and Israelis for the first time. He convinced one of the original 
members of the team, J. T. Milik, to relinquish a major portion of his 
original hoard for reassignment to younger scholars. In consultation 
with the other editors, he fixed a “Suggested Timetable” for 
completion of the work. 

At the same time the Israel Antiquities Authority (then the 
Department of Antiquities) began for the first time to assert itself 
with regard to the problem of Dead Sea Scroll publication. 

Israel obtained physical control of the Cave 4 fragments in the 1967 
Six-Day War. Ironically, the Jordanian government itself gave Israel a 
claim to the scroll fragments from Cave 4 that Israel would otherwise 
not have had. As indicated earlier, the Cave 4 fragments were 
purchased with funds provided by the national schools, which 
presumably could lay claim to ownership of the fragments. However, 
in 1961 the government of Jordan muddied the waters, to say the 
least. The background is this: Most of the original editors were 
Catholic clerics. The only agnostic on the team was John Allegro, 
whose idiosyncratic views of the scrolls and their contents soon 
alienated him from the rest of the team. In the ensuing struggle 
between Allegro and the other members of the team, Allegro 
attempted to enlist his friends in the Jordanian government. Jordan, 
he argued, should wrest from these Catholic clerics documents they 
were using to support their religious beliefs while at the same time 
suppressing interpretations of the scrolls they feared would 
undermine their religious doctrine. The full story of this struggle is 
yet to be told. But in 1961, the Jordanian government nationalized 
the scrolls. (In November 1966, Jordan nationalized the museum.) 


The government of Jordan then claimed to own the Cave 4 fragments. 
(Israel’s intact scrolls were of course housed in its own museum — the 
Shrine of the Book in west Jerusalem.) 

When Jerusalem — and the Rockefeller Museum — fell to the Israelis in 
the 1967 Six-Day War, Jordanian governmental property including 
the Cave 4 scroll fragments became subject to Israeli administration. 
Even without the Jordanian nationalization, the Israelis would have 
had a strong claim to the scrolls not only because Jordanian 
sovereignty over the West Bank where the scrolls were found was 
recognized by only two countries — Great Britain and Pakistan — but 
also because the documents themselves represent Israel’s patrimony, 
not Jordan’s. 

In any event, when the scroll fragments fell to Israel in 1967, Israel 
made no effort to gain control of the publication project — perhaps 
for fear of political fallout if questions of ownership were raised. So 
Israeli authorities did not even attempt to add Jews to the official 
publication team. On the contrary, Israel agreed to recognize the 
“publication rights” of the official team, provided only that the 
fragments were promptly published. 

This of course did not happen. Israel nevertheless made no effort to 
assert its authority until a former general, Amir Drori, was appointed 
director of the Antiquities Authority in 1988. Drori introduced 
numerous reforms and revitalized the agency. His influence was also 
felt with regard to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Indeed, he claims that the 
reforms he introduced had nothing to do with Biblical Archaeology 
Review’s campaign to permit free access to the scrolls, and he may 
well be right. 

Under Drori’s aegis, a scroll advisory committee was appointed, in 
effect to represent Israel in connection with the Dead Sea Scroll 
publication project. 

Although Drori, on the recommendation of the scroll advisory 
committee, ratified Strugnell’s appointment as editor in chief, 
relations between Strugnell and the Antiquities Authority soon 
deteriorated into a struggle for control. In late 1990, the Israelis 
appointed Hebrew University professor Emanuel Tov as co-editor in 
chief with Strugnell, but, pointedly, Tov reported not to Strugnell, 
but to the Israel Antiquities Authority. 


Strugnell reacted with fury to Tov’s appointment; he regarded it as a 
strongarm move. According to an Associated Press report, “Strugnell 
said he would fight Tov’s appointment, which he called an ‘alarming 
attempt’ by Israeli scholars to claim credit for the research.” 

Soon thereafter Strugnell gave a virulently anti-Jewish interview to 
an Israeli journalist, which was published first in Hebrew in a Tel 

Aviv daily and then in English in the Biblical Archaeology Review. 
Strugnell was promptly relieved of his duties as editor in chief, 
although not removed from the team. As of this writing, he still holds 
his hoard of texts. 

With Strugnell’s removal, Tov became chief editor along with two 
other chief editors, Professor Eugene Ulrich of the University of 
Notre Dame and Pere Emile Puech of the Ecole Biblique. 

Since then the team leadership has operated efficiently and 
harmoniously. They continue to respond to international outrage by 
expanding the team, creating deadlines for completion, and urging 
the various editors to speed up their work. In addition, they have 
persuaded some editors — particularly J. T. Milik — to release more of 
their hoard to others. 

On the other hand, the team, as well as the Antiquities Authority and 
its scroll advisory committee, adamantly defended the cartel, though 
insisting that it be expanded. That is, the unpublished texts must 
remain secret, subject to allowing other qualified scholars to see 
them, provided they agree not to publish them until the editio 
princeps is published by a team editor. 

As part of his effort to speed up the publication process, Strugnell 
decided in 1988 to have published for the exclusive use of the team 
editors the concordance prepared in the late 1950s. Until 1988, the 
concordance had lain in the basement of the Rockefeller, for all 
practical purposes inaccessible. A concordance would be an 
invaluable tool to anyone working on the texts because it would 
guide the researcher to all uses of any particular word, including its 
context. In 1988, under Strugnell’s direction, thirty copies of the 
concordance were printed and distributed. 

The team had refrained from making the concordance available 
earlier because of fears that someone might reconstruct from the 
concordance the secret transcripts from which it had been made. 


Admittedly, this would be a laborious job, but the team editors knew 
it could be done. By the time Strugnell printed the concordance in 
1988, however, the age of the computer had arrived. It was no longer 
so laborious to reconstruct the secret transcripts from the 
concordance. What the team had feared was exactly what happened. 

Professor Ben Zion Wacholder of Hebrew Union College in 
Cincinnati, Ohio, is sixty-seven years old, white-haired, and nearly 
blind. He has devoted much of his professional life to study of the 

Dead Sea Scrolls and has written a book about them. At a meeting of 
scholars in November 1990, at which Wacholder gave a paper on a 
particular Dead Sea Scroll text, one of his fellow scholars raised a 
question that Wacholder suspected could be answered by an 
unpublished fragment. Wacholder returned to Cincinnati and then, 
with the help of Martin G. Abegg, a graduate student who was a 
computer buff, Wacholder recreated the fragments of the 
unpublished text from the concordance, using Abegg’s computer. 
Wacholder and Abegg were so pleased with the result that they began 
generating other transcripts — transcripts that had been prepared by 
the team editors in the 1950s, but that had been kept secret except 
insofar as they had provided the basis for the concordance. 

After much agonizing, Wacholder and Abegg decided to make the 
result of their work available to the scholarly world at large. 
Arrangements were made with the Biblical Archaeology Society to 
publish the computer-reconstructed transcripts in fascicles, the first 
of which appeared on September 4, 1991. 

The publication of the computer-reconstructed texts was reported 
the next day on the front page of The New York Times, The 
Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, and other newspapers. 
Approving editorials soon followed in these and other newspapers. 
“Mr. Wacholder and Mr. Abegg are to be applauded for their work,” 
said The New York Times. “The committee [of official team editors], 
with its obsessive secrecy and cloak and dagger scholarship, long ago 
exhausted its credibility with scholars and laymen alike. The two 
Cincinnatians seem to know what the scroll committee forgot: that 
the scrolls and what they say about the common roots of Christianity 
and Rabbinic Judaism belong to civilization, not to a few sequestered 


Neither the team editors, the Israel Antiquities Authority, nor its 


scroll advisory committee agreed with this widely held opinion. 
Instead they reacted with their customary fury. Strugnell accused 
Wacholder and Abegg of stealing. A member of the scroll advisory 
committee characterized the publication as “intellectual thievery.” 
One of the editors in chief charged the publisher with a violation of 
international law and threatened to sue. 

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the Biblical Archaeology Society, the 
Huntington Library in San Marino, California, was planning its own 
surprise. The Huntington possessed a set of photographic negatives 
of the scroll fragments it had received from a California 
philanthropist named Elizabeth Hay Bechtel. Mrs. Bechtel had 
founded the Ancient Biblical Manuscript Center in Claremont, 
California. More than a decade ago, she arranged to send a 
photographer to Jerusalem to photograph the scrolls — or, rather, to 
photograph photographs of the scrolls — for security purposes — so a 
set of negatives would be available in case something happened to the 
originals. The Bechtel negatives were intended to be deposited in her 
Ancient Biblical Manuscript Center. Before this occurred, however, 
Mrs. Bechtel had a falling out with the director of the center, 
Professor James A. Sanders. In the ensuing struggle for control of the 
center, Mrs. Bechtel lost — but she had the negatives. As part of the 
settlement of the dispute, Mrs. Bechtel gave a set of the negatives to 
the Ancient Biblical Manuscript Center but kept another for herself. 
The center agreed in writing with the Israel Antiquity Authority not 
to allow anyone to see its set of negatives without the express 
permission of the editor to whom it was assigned for publication. 
Mrs. Bechtel signed no such agreement. She deposited her set of 
negatives in the Huntington. In 1987 Mrs. Bechtel died, leaving her 
negatives of the scrolls to the library. 

In 1990, a new director, William A. Moffett, was appointed at the 
Huntington. Moffett is an independent man with a no-nonsense 
attitude in favor of intellectual freedom. When he became aware of 
the Bechtel negatives and the controversy regarding the monopolists’ 
control of the texts, he announced that all scholars could have access 
to the Huntington archive. The announcement was reported on 
September 22, 1991, in a three-column head at the top of the front 
page of the Sunday New York Times: “Monopoly Over Dead Sea 
Scrolls Is Ended.” 

Again universal applause — except from the Israel Antiquities 
Authority, its scroll advisory committee, and the official team of 


editors. From them came the by-now predictable reaction — 
accusations of breach of agreement, unethical conduct, immoral 
action, stealing scholars’ work, and threats of lawsuit. The 
Huntington was not to be cowed, however. On the other hand, it was 
not in a position administratively to respond to the flood of requests 
for access to its negatives. 

The Antiquities Authority and the scroll publication team then 
proceeded to attempt to reverse the Huntington decision by 
negotiating a restrictive definition of access. After threatening the 
Huntington with a lawsuit, the Antiquities Authority and editor in 
chief Tov called a meeting in Jerusalem for December 4, 1991, to 
which they invited institutions having negatives of the scrolls. (In 
addition to the Huntington and the Ancient Biblical Manuscript 
Center, two other institutions have negatives of unpublished scrolls: 
Hebrew Union College — whose set is only partial — and the Oxford 
Centre for Postgraduate Hebrew Studies, which recently obtained a 
copy in connection with a British foundation’s funding the work of 
the official editing team.) While the Antiquities Authority and the 
official team editors “agree[d] in principle to facilitate free access to 
photographs of the Scrolls,” they also expressed their concern “that 
the work of scholars who in recent years have taken upon themselves 
to publish texts should not be harmed by any new arrangements.” In 
subsequent negotiations with the invitees, it became clear what the 
monopolists had in mind: they would agree to let otherwise qualified 
scholars have access, but such access would be conditioned upon an 
express agreement by outside scholars who were given access that 
they would not publish what they saw. 

When Huntington would not agree to attend the meeting and it 
became clear that it would not abide by the restrictions that the 
Antiquities Authority and the official editing team were seeking to 
impose, the Antiquities Authority and chief editor Emanuel Tov 
attempted to preempt the situation by cancelling the meeting and 
announcing at a press conference that they were permitting free 
access to the scrolls to all scholars. But behind this announcement 
were the same restrictions. Professor James M. Robinson of 
Claremont Graduate School and director of the Institute for Antiquity 
and Christianity called the Israel Antiquities Authority 
announcement “a smoke screen”; others called it a subterfuge. For 
behind the announcement was a press release that stated that any 
scholar applying to see the unpublished text must sign a statement 
certifying that the inspection was “for personal research only and not 


for the preparation of a text edition.” In other words, you could look, 
but you could not print what you saw. This announcement by the 
Israeli authorities clearly did not satisfy the critics. 

The drama ended on November 19, 1991, when the Biblical 
Archaeology Society published a two-volume edition of photographs 
of the unpublished scrolls. This project had been in the works for 
over a year. Where the Biblical Archaeology Society obtained its 
photographs remains a mystery. The introduction to the set of books 
states that the Huntington Library was not the source. 

The edition of photographs of the unpublished texts contains 1,787 
plates — all fragments. This is the scholarly raw material. At last it is 
available. The question of access has now been resolved. 

The next startling disclosure is likely to be the terrible conditions 
under which the fragments have been kept. Just before the 1956 
Arab-Israeli war, the fragments were packed up and shipped to 
Amman where they were stored for safekeeping in the damp 
basement of the Ottoman Bank. When they were returned to 
Jerusalem months later, mildew had already formed on some of the 
fragments. It took several months to clean them. But even in 
Jerusalem they were not kept in a climate-controlled environment; as 
a result, many of the fragments are today illegible. That means that 
the best evidence of the texts in many, if not most, cases is not the 
fragment itself, but an early photograph. 

Fortunately, the fragments in plates were photographed over a period 
of years by the superb Arab photographer, Najib Albina. He is one of 
the unsung heroes of the Dead Sea Scroll saga. Many of his 
photographs were taken with infrared film, thereby enhancing the 
text. Since the fragments came into Israeli possession, they have 
never been rephotographed as a whole. The negatives in the various 
depositories are largely copies of Albina’s negatives. 

Alas, Albina’s negatives were kept under as poor conditions as the 
fragments and they too have badly deteriorated, some to the point 
where they have simply been discarded, others to the extent that 
they have become too buckled to reproduce by placing film on top of 
them. The combination of the deterioration of the fragments and the 
deterioration of the Albina negatives accounts for the many illegible 
and unusable plates in the photographic edition of the scrolls. How 
much has been lost by this negligence will never be known. 


Almost from the outset, the scrolls have been the subject of 
controversy. In the early days, much of the controversy involved the 
extent to which Christianity would be “cut down to size” by the 
contents of the scrolls, a theme made popular by Edmund Wilson’s 
long article in the New Yorker, later published as a book, The Scrolls 

from the Dead Sea. 

But almost every other aspect of the scrolls was also an occasion for 
often rancorous debate among scholars — whether the scrolls were 
medieval forgeries, what was their date, whether references to Jesus, 
Paul, John the Baptist, or Jesus’ brother James could be found there; 
and whether the gospels or other books of the New Testament were 
included in the fragments. 

Then around 1960, the scrolls almost dropped from sight. For 
twenty-five years, not only the public but scholars too seemed to 
forget the scrolls. Little was published in this period by the official 
team of editors — and no one seemed to care. Then in the mid-1980s 
Israeli archaeologist Yigael Yadin published the Temple Scroll in 
English. The latest of the Dead Sea Scrolls to be recovered — Israel 
confiscated it intact from an Arab antiquities dealer after the 1967 
Six-Day War — at twenty-seven feet, it is also the longest. At about the 
same time, we began to hear of a letter, perhaps from the leader of 
the Dead Sea Scroll sect himself, the so-called Teacher of 
Righteousness. It had apparently been discovered among the Cave 4 
fragments. If so, this was the only letter (although it was found in 
multiple copies, emphasizing its significance) to be found at 

Finally, also in the mid-1980s, the Biblical Archaeology Review began 
complaining about the painfully slow pace of publication and the 
official editors’ obsessive secrecy about the unpublished texts, fully 
half of which remained inaccessible to scholars more than thirty 
years after their discovery. 

Oddly, the general press took up this arcane cause. How to account 
for enormous public interest in these abstruse texts? Some have tried 
to explain it on the ground that the public thought the unpublished 
texts contained evidence that would undermine the fundamental 
tenets of either Christianity or Judaism, a speculation fed by the 
official editors’ obsessive secrecy. I do not accept this theory. I 
believe instead that intelligent men and women who were not part of 


the controversy realized these tattered fragments would tell them 
something of the sources of their culture, and knew that a principle 
of enormous importance was at stake. Public approval for the 
publication of the scrolls has been in proportion to the outrage that 
accompanied this suppression. 

The essays in this book reflect not only the controversies, but also the 
drama, surrounding the scrolls — beginning with the initial discovery 
of seven intact scrolls in Cave 1 and their ultimate acquisition by 
Israel after four of them were taken to the United States and sold 
through a classified ad in, of all places, The Wall Street Journal 
(Chapter 1). 

By whom, where, and why was this library assembled? This is the 
subject of a brilliant synthesis by Harvard professor Frank M. Cross 
(Chapter 2). 

In recent years, a new generation of Dead Sea Scroll scholars has 
matured. Some of them now question conclusions that had been long 
accepted — for example, Cross’s contention that the sectarian texts 
from Qumran represent the thinking of the Jewish sect of Essenes. In 
Chapter 3, Professor Lawrence Schiffman of New York University 
questions the Essene theory and suggests that in fact the Qumran sect 
finds its origins in the Sadducees, a contention roundly opposed by 
one of Cross’ students, James C. VanderKam of the University of 
Notre Dame (Chapter 4). More than simply a name is at stake. At 
issue is the basic philosophy of the sectarian texts. 

Strangely, the most important text for tracing the physical origins of 
the Qumran sect was found not in the Qumran caves — at least it was 
not found there first. It was found instead in a Cairo synagogue nearly 
a hundred years ago and has long been available to scholars. Known as 
the Damascus Document (because the group made a journey, either 
actually or symbolically, from — or to — Damascus), this text reflects 
the thought of a Jewish group who, a few prescient scholars long ago 
speculated, lived before the Roman destruction of the Temple, even 
though the two copies recovered from the Cairo synagogue date from 
more than a thousand years later. Imagine the surprise when the 
scholarly world learned that at least eight copies of this document 
were in the Qumran library. That is why some have called the two 
copies of the Damascus Document found in the Cairo synagogue the 
first Dead Sea Scrolls to be discovered (Chapter 5). Just how this text 
bears on the origins of the Dead Sea Scroll sect is further explored in 


Chapter 6. 

By 1967 everyone assumed that all the scrolls the Bedouin had 
discovered had come into scholarly hands — everyone, that is, except 
Israeli archaeologist Yigael Yadin. For years he had been secretly — 
and unsuccessfully — negotiating for the purchase of another scroll 
from a Bethlehem antiquities dealer. The go-between — Bethlehem 
was then in Jordanian hands — was an American clergyman Yadin 
would identify only as Mr. Z. When Bethlehem fell into Israeli hands 
in the 1967 Six-Day War, Yadin immediately went to the home of the 
antiquities dealer, lifted some floor tiles, and there found the now- 
famous Temple Scroll — one of the most important and controversial 
of the scrolls. Both its discovery and its significance are discussed by 
Yadin himself in Chapter 7. The visionary temple for which this 
scroll is named is described for us in Chapter 8 by Magen Broshi, the 
curator of the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem, which houses the 
seven intact scrolls from Cave 1 that had been acquired by Israel by 
the mid-1950s as well as the Temple Scroll acquired in 1967. 

Mr. Z, the American clergyman who represented the Bethlehem 
antiquities dealer in his pre-1967 negotiation with Yadin, first 
learned of Israel’s acquisition of the Temple Scroll from the article by 
Yadin in Biblical Archaeology Review. Mr. Z then told his side of the 
story of the aborted negotiation — quite different from Yadin’s, who 
had since died in 1984. In Chapter 9 we tell the story of Joe Uhrig, 
the American television evangelist who tried his best to acquire the 
scroll for Yadin and was unsuccessful because, he claims, Yadin 
misled him. This business of the scrolls is, indeed, a cloak and dagger 
affair, as Yadin had always maintained. 

In Chapter 10, a leading German Dead Sea Scroll scholar, Hartmut 
Stegemann, explains why he believes the Temple Scroll was in fact a 
long-lost sixth book of the Torah (Pentateuch) that did not make the 
final cut. 

This naturally leads to an examination of the significance of the 
biblical scrolls from Qumran — about 25 percent of the scrolls are 
books of the Hebrew Bible — for our understanding of the 
development of the biblical text. Before the Qumran discoveries our 
oldest texts of the Hebrew Bible were medieval — tenth century and 
later. With the Qumran discoveries, we suddenly had texts a 
thousand years earlier — at a time when the biblical texts had not yet 
been standardized. In Chapters 11, 12, and 13, we examine what the 


Dead Sea Scrolls can tell us about the early development of the 
biblical text, how a passage from the book of Samuel had accidentally 
been omitted from the Hebrew Bible, and how scholars use the 
Qumran biblical texts to interpret various difficult passages in the 
Hebrew Bible. 

In Chapter 14, Professor VanderKam discusses the relationship 
between the Dead Sea Scrolls and Christianity, a subject that must be 
considered from many aspects. VanderKam’s masterful survey, a 
sober consideration of a complex issue, comes to two somewhat 
surprising conclusions: (1) Early Christianity is grounded more 
deeply in Jewish thought than previously supposed; (2) aspects of 
Christian beliefs previously considered unique were in fact part of 
the intellectual baggage of the time. Nevertheless, the Christian 
combination with its unique Messiah remains unparalleled. 

An example of a Qumran text with remarkable parallels to a passage 
in the gospel of Luke is explored in Chapter 15. 

In Chapter 16, the eminent German scholar Otto Betz considers 
whether John the Baptist spent his early years at Qumran and 
concludes that he probably did, although the Baptist later determined 
to take his message to a broader public. 

What Professor VanderKam does for Christianity in Chapter 14, 
Professor Schiffman does for rabbinic Judaism in Chapter 17. 
Schiffman briefly surveys what we can learn from the Dead Sea 
Scrolls about the Pharisaic origins and development of rabbinic 

If the earliest Dead Sea Scroll — the Damascus Document — was not 
found in the Dead Sea caves, but in a Cairo synagogue, then perhaps 
we may say that the Copper Scroll, although found in Qumran Cave 
3, is not really a Dead Sea Scroll. The reason is that in almost every 
respect the Copper Scroll is different from, and unrelated to, the 
other Dead Sea Scrolls. It was found tucked away by itself in Cave 3. 
It was written on copper foil — the only such scroll. It is a “hidden- 
treasure” map — again unique among the scrolls. Some have 
speculated that the Copper Scroll is a secret guide to where the 
treasures of the Jerusalem Temple have been hidden to prevent their 
capture by the Romans. But will we ever be able to discover the 
secret code? And is any of the treasure still to be found? Professor P. 
Kyle McCarter of The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, 


Maryland, is reediting the Copper Scroll (it was originally published 
thirty years ago) based on remarkable new photographs by Bruce and 
Kenneth Zuckerman. Chapter 18 provides us with the latest insights 
of McCarter’s new edition of the Copper Scroll. 

In Chapter 19 we return to the problems of the fragmentary scrolls — 
and how to reconstruct them. The author, Hartmut Stegemann, is the 
world’s leading expert on the subject. He has even devised some 
unique ways of placing fragments that do not join in relation to one 

In the book’s final section, we reprint the anti-Jewish, anti-Israeli 
interview that led to John Strugnell’s dismissal as chief scroll editor 
(Chapter 20). Then we directly confront an issue that has been 
widely whispered about, but seldom openly discussed — whether and 
how anti-Semitism has affected the management and interpretation 
of the scrolls (Chapter 21). Finally, we consider the widely expressed 
charge that somehow the Vatican has been suppressing the scrolls, 
because they undermine church doctrine (Chapter 22). 

We have not included a chapter on the contents of the unpublished 
scrolls for the obvious reason that no one is quite sure yet what they 
contain. But the likelihood is that they do not contain any great 
surprises, like a copy of the gospels or a direct mention of Jesus of 
Nazareth. Enough of the scrolls have been published so that the 
general direction of the unpublished texts can be assumed. New 
insights, yes. Bombshells, no. 

Will more scrolls turn up? It’s a tantalizing possibility. One source 
might be the caves themselves. A new, more systematic exploration 
of the caves is being undertaken, so this remains a possibility. 

Another possibility is that more scrolls were found long ago, but are 
being kept secret by an antiquities dealer or even a canny 
businessman. Deposed chief editor Strugnell maintains that there are 
at least four such scrolls. According to Strugnell, Lankester Harding, 
the last British director of antiquities in Jordan, told him on his 
deathbed of three such scrolls. Strugnell himself claims to know of 
two scrolls, one of which overlaps with the three Harding told him 
about. According to Strugnell these scrolls are in Jordan; some have 
been purchased by bankers: “They’re being kept very carefully, no 
one need worry about them. They’re a better investment than 
anything on the Israeli or the New York stock exchanges.” 


Except for this overview, which was written especially for this book, 
the essays in this book all appeared or, as of this writing, will appear 
in Biblical Archaeology Review or its sister publication Bible Review. 
Each is on the forefront of scholarship. Together they represent the 
pathbreaking ideas of some of the world’s most distinguished experts 
on the Dead Sea Scrolls. 

*Wadi is an Arabic word for a dry riverbed or valley that flows 
occasionally after a winter rain. 

t Nahal is the Hebrew equivalent of the Arabic wadi 

*After the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C., his kingdom was 
divided between the Ptolemies and the Seleucids. Palestine was at 
various times ruled by one or the other of these two ruling houses. 

* A Bible-like text, often falsely ascribed to an ancient worthy like Enoch 

or Noah. 

* Sec Chapters 3 and 4. 

*This concordance includes nonbiblical texts from Caves 1-10. 

*See Chapter 20. 








Numerous, sometimes conflicting, accounts exist of how the Dead 
Sea Scrolls were discovered and came into scholarly hands. All the 
details may never be known with certainty. But this account by 
Professor Harry Thomas Frank is as reliable, as well as dramatic, 
as any. Frank died in 1980 at the age of forty-seven. 

This chapter deals only with the discovery of Cave 1, the first at 
Qumran found to contain manuscripts, from which seven nearly 
intact scrolls were recovered. Later, ten other Qumran caves were 
discovered containing inscriptional material 


The most sensational archaeological discovery of the century was 
made entirely by accident. On a morning in the winter of 1946-1947 
three shepherds of the Ta‘amireh tribe of Bedouin watched their 
nimblefooted goats skip across the cliffs just south of an old ruin on 
the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. The ruin, once thought to be 
the City of Salt mentioned in the Old Testament (Joshua 15:62), had 
from time to time intrigued archaeologists. But from the middle of 
the nineteenth century, when they first worked in the area, they had 
said that there was not much at that desolate site. Possibly it was a 
minor Roman fort. Perhaps, some of the more fanciful said, it was 
even Gomorrah! 


7. The entrance to Cave 1 where seven intact scrolls were found by Bedouin 

shepherds in 1 9 47. 

David Harris 


8. Junta Muhammed and Muhammed Ahmed el-Hamed, the Bedouin shepherds 
who discovered Cave 1 in 1947. 

John Trever 

About a mile to the south of the ruin is one of the larger of the 
numerous freshwater springs that surround the Dead Sea. This place, 
known as Ein Feshkha, is where these three Bedouin watered their 
animals. Then it was up the cliffs and into the forbidding wilderness 
where shepherds, like David, let their flocks wander in search of 
food. And so on that fateful day the immemorial scene was repeated, 
with black beasts defying gravity on steep inclines, leaping, stopping 


to nibble here and there. A seemingly disinterested shepherd moved 
leisurely below, but his eye missed nothing. Some of the goats were 
climbing too high up. It was getting late and time to get them down. 
Jum‘a Muhammed — that was the name of the fellow — now showed 
his own nimbleness in getting up the cliff face. As he climbed 
something caught his attention. There were two small openings in 
the rock. They were caves, or maybe two openings into the same 
cave. But they were so small. A man could not get through the lower 
one but might just squeeze through the upper one. He threw a rock 
into the opening. The rock had broken pottery, and what else would 
be in these remote caves but treasure? Maybe his days of following 
the sheep were over. He peered into the black depths of the cave but 
could make out nothing. He yelled down to his two cousins. Khalil 
Musa was older. Muhammed Ahmed el-Hamed was younger, a 
teenager. They came up and heard the exciting tale. But it was now 
getting very late and the goats had to be gathered. Tomorrow would 
take them to Ein Feshkha. In the afternoon they would return for 
another look at this intriguing cave. 

But they did not visit the cave the next afternoon, returning 
somewhat later than planned from Ein Feshkha. At dawn of the next 
morning Muhammed Ahmed el-Hamed, who was nicknamed “The 
Wolf” (edh-Dhib), woke first. Leaving his two cousins sleeping on 
the ground, he scaled the 350 or so feet up to the cave JunTa had 
found two days before. With effort the slender young man was able to 
lower himself feet first into the cave. The floor was covered with 
debris including broken pottery. But along the wall stood a number of 
narrow jars, some with their bowl-shaped covers still in place. Edh- 
Dhib scrambled over the floor of the cave and plunged his hand into 
one of the jars. Nothing. Frantically he tore the cover from another, 
eagerly exploring the smooth inside of the empty container. Another 
and yet another with the same result. The ninth was full of dirt. The 
increasingly desperate young Bedouin at last closed his hand around 
something wrapped in cloth. He extracted two such bundles and then 
a third, which had a leather covering but no cloth wrapping. The 
cloth and the leather were greenish with age. These were all edh- 
Dhib took from the cave that morning. 



9. Jars in which scrolls were discovered. 

David Harris 

He wiggled himself out of the opening and half-ran, half-fell down the 
hillside to show his sleepy cousins what he had found. Treasure 
indeed! Scholars who later interviewed edh-Dhib think that this boy 
had in his hands on that winter morning nothing less than the great 
Isaiah Scroll, the Habakkuk Commentary, and the Manual of 

Khalil and JunTa could not have been less interested in the scrolls 
edh-Dhib showed them. Where was the treasure? Had he hidden it 
for himself? Relentless questions. A little roughing-up. But in the end 
edh-Dhib was able to convince the other two that there was nothing 
but these worthless rolls. Had he looked carefully? Maybe there were 
other jars. Maybe one of the broken ones had spilled its valuable 
contents on the floor of the cave and it was in the debris. 

Once more the three made their way up the hill to the cave. Edh- 
Dhib passed a number of jars out of the opening, but these were left 
in front of the cave when they proved to be empty, just as he had 
said. Downcast, the shepherds zigzagged their way down to the 
makeshift camp. JunTa crammed the rolls into a bag. When they later 
returned to the Ta‘amireh center near Bethlehem he took them with 
him. The bag with its “treasure” — so much more vast than the 
disappointed men ever dreamed! — was hung on a tent pole. How long 
it was there we do not know for certain. Occasionally its contents 
were removed and passed around among more curious members of 
the tribe. The Isaiah Scroll was damaged, but only its cover. The 
precious text was unhurt. When the Manual of Discipline reached St. 
Mark’s Monastery in Jerusalem some months later it was in two 
pieces. But no one is sure if this was the fault of the Ta‘amireh. The 
break is such that it could have occurred in ancient times. 

A few weeks after the initial discovery of this cave — an orifice that 
came to be known to scholars as Qumran Cave 1, the cave of the great 
scrolls — JunTa returned with other Bedouin and removed several 
other scrolls that they found there. As nearly as it is possible to 
reconstruct the story now, they removed seven major manuscripts 
altogether, the four that ended up at St. Mark’s and the three that 
came into the possession of the Hebrew University. 


Such was the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, manuscripts a 
thousand years older than the then oldest known Hebrew texts of the 
Bible, manuscripts many of which were written a hundred years 
before the birth of Jesus and at least one of which may have been 
written almost three hundred years before the journey of Mary and 
Joseph to Bethlehem. 

How these manuscripts got from a Bedouin tent pole into the 
scholar’s study is as fascinating as their chance discovery. The setting 
for this part of the story was the last days of the British Mandate in 
Palestine. His Majesty’s Foreign Office had somewhat irresponsibly 
decided that since the problem of Palestine could not be solved by 
reason they would withdraw, leaving the two sides to decide the 
issue by blood. Jewish and Arab families who had lived side by side 
for generations were being wrenched apart by fear and distrust. 
Barbed wire appeared in the most unlikely places. Immigrants, legal 
and illegal, added impetus to the worsening situation. The British 
were literally besieged by both sides, but particularly by the Jewish 
underground army. Murders were growing in number. The King 
David Hotel in Jerusalem was blown up with severe loss of life. In 
such times the Bedouin youths wondered if they could find a buyer 
for their greenish rolls. 

In early April 1947 JunTa and Khalil took them to Bethlehem, 
principal market town of the Ta‘amireh. They took three scrolls and 
two jars to the carpenter shop of Ibrahim ‘Ijha who dabbled in 
antiquities. Faidi Salahi, another dealer in antiquities, was there. He 
was later to play a large role in the story of the scrolls, but on this 
occasion he cautioned ‘Ijha to be careful. These things might be 
stolen. There might be serious trouble. The two shepherds moved on 
carrying their jars and their scrolls. 

In the marketplace JunTa, with the scrolls, ran into George Ishaya 
Shamoun, who was often in Bethlehem on Saturdays selling cloaks to 
Bedouin. JunTa imparted the tale of these worthless scrolls to his 
friend. Someone suggested that they go to the cobbler’s shop of Khalil 
Iskander Shahin — better known as Kando. Kando was a Syrian 
Orthodox Christian. He was also serious about the scrolls. For one- 
third of whatever the sale price might be, Kando and George would 
handle the disposal of the scrolls. Agreed. JunTa and Khalil were 
given £5 and the scrolls were left in the little shop in Bethlehem. 

During Holy Week, George, also Syrian Orthodox, mentioned the 


manuscripts to Athanasius Yeshue Samuel, Syrian Orthodox 
Metropolitan, or Archbishop, of Jerusalem. He told the priest they 
were written in Syrian, wrapped “like mummies,” and were from the 
wilderness near the Dead Sea. Samuel knew that they would have to 
be very old, if genuine, because that region had not been inhabited 
since early Christian times. He expressed an interest in the scrolls and 
urged Kando to bring them to St. Mark’s. 

Within the week Kando and George were at the monastery with one 
manuscript, The Manual of Discipline. It was, the Metropolitan 
Samuel saw at once, not written in Syriac but in Hebrew. Then to the 
astonishment of his visitors he broke off a piece of the margin and 
burned it. By this somewhat crude but effective means he 
determined it was animal skin. Yes, Samuel would buy this scroll and 
any others the Bedouin might have. Kando, with the manuscript 
securely in hand, departed but promised to get in touch with his 
friends from the desert. For several days anxious calls went out from 
St. Mark’s to Kando’s shop near Manger Square in Bethlehem. The 
conversations were fruitless. Weeks went by. Samuel’s frustration 
turned to resignation. 

On the first Saturday in July 1947 Kando called. Two Bedouin had 
brought some scrolls to Bethlehem. Would they risk bringing them to 
Jerusalem? asked Samuel. Yes. The tide of violence between Jew, 
Arab, and Briton was swelling. Jewish terrorism, mostly directed 
against the British, was beginning to be heavily felt in certain Arab 
areas. The worst was yet to come, but it was already a difficult and 
dangerous time in and around Jerusalem. In this atmosphere Samuel 
became anxious when the Bedouin and their scrolls had not appeared 
by noon. Yet he had not mentioned his appointment to anyone since 
he was not entirely sure that the whole affair was not some kind of 
hoax. Hungry, agitated, Samuel sat down to eat. In the idle lunchtime 
conversation the Metropolitan heard one of the fathers mention that 
he had turned away some Bedouin from the door earlier in the 
morning. When questioned he affirmed that they were carrying 
scrolls. The Syrian monk had even ascertained that they were written 
in Hebrew. Probably old Torahs from somewhere, but filthy and 
covered with pitch or something else that smelled equally bad. These 
he steadfastly refused to allow within the monastery walls, still less 
into His Grace’s presence as the bearers demanded. 

Samuel returned to his office to call Kando. As he reached for the 
telephone, it rang. It was none other than the Bethlehem parishioner 


himself, deeply offended at the treatment given his friends. 
Explanations were offered, apologies made. Where were the scrolls 
now? Thanks entirely to George, said Kando, they were safely back in 

It seems that when the Bedouin along with George, who was the man 
closest to the shepherds in all this, had been turned away from the 
monastery, they went to the Jaffa Gate to catch the bus back to 
Bethlehem. There in discussion with a Jewish merchant an offer was 
made to buy them. George, however, had correctly guessed what the 
trouble had been at the door of St. Mark’s. He was, furthermore, 
committed to the Metropolitan. He argued with his friends and 
finally prevailed. The three boarded the bus for Bethlehem with the 
manuscripts. Kando reached for his telephone when he heard what 
had happened. This reported incident at the Jaffa Gate, it should be 
pointed out, is not well authenticated and may be a part of the 
considerable legend that has grown up around the Dead Sea Scrolls. 

It was two weeks before Kando could make his way to Jerusalem. He 
was graciously received by the Syrian fathers. Samuel heard the story 
of the discovery of the cave and its contents. Of greater interest five 
scrolls, including the one that had been brought previously, were 
produced from a bag. Two documents were in a delicate state. Two 
others looked similar and later proved to be the two halves of The 
Manual of Discipline. The fifth, the largest, was superbly preserved. 
It could be easily unrolled, revealing graceful Hebrew characters. A 
deal was quickly made. The Metropolitan gave Kando £24 ($97), of 
which two-thirds went to JunTa and Khalil. 

Three months after Samuel had first heard of the existence of the 
scrolls, they were in his possession. Now doubts began to creep in. 
Were they genuine? Was there such a cave as had been described to 
him? With George’s help Father Yusef, one of the monks from St. 
Mark’s, visited the site and reported to his superior that there was 
such a cave and indeed it contained scraps of other scrolls as well as a 
large jar suitable for storing much water. 

With his faith in the authenticity of the scrolls revived, the 
Metropolitan set about to determine their contents and to sustain or 
destroy his view that they were from early Christian times. One 
would think that in a city such as Jerusalem, with its multiplicity of 
religious communities and prestigious scholarly institutions, this 
would have been a relatively simple matter. But few things are 


simple in Jerusalem, still less in a time of violence and when the 
question at hand is so patently improbable as authenticating scrolls 
two thousand years old. It was fully six months before Samuel’s 
dreams were confirmed. 

His first contact was the Palestine Department of Antiquities in the 
person of Stephen Hanna Stephen, a member of the Syrian Orthodox 
Church and thus well known to Samuel. There had been reports in 
Byzantine and earlier times of scrolls having been found near Jericho 
(Qumran is seven and a half miles south). From the second, third, 
and fourth Christian centuries came reports of Greek and Hebrew 
books found in jars in the area. Origen, an early church father, is said 
to have used some of these in compiling his famous Hexapla. In the 
late eighth century Patriarch Timothy I reported a similar find, 
noting that the manuscripts were found in caves. These things, 
common knowledge among scholars, were apparently not known to 
Stephen. But he did know of numerous incidents of hoaxes involving 
antiquities. He responded to the Metropolitan by suggesting the 
embarrassment that might come should his manuscripts turn out to 
be fake. Would Stephen, asked Samuel, call the documents to the 
attention of those in the Department of Antiquities who might be 
able to render proper judgment? Stephen had rather not lest he, too, 
be held up to ridicule before his colleagues. 

The Syrian priest, undaunted by this rebuke, now found his way to 
the famous Ecole Biblique, the Dominican monastery of St. Stephen 
and home of the French Biblical and Archaeological School. There he 
was received by Father Marmardji, a fellow Syrian and friend of long 
standing, who listened to the story of the finding of the scrolls with 
some interest. Some days later Father Marmardji came to St. Mark’s 
accompanied by a young Dutch Dominican, Father J. Van der Ploeg. 
Together they examined the materials. Neither thought the writings 
were as old as claimed. The Dutchman did, however, immediately 
recognize the largest scroll as the Book of Isaiah. He was the first to 
do so. When he returned to the Ecole, Van der Ploeg spoke with some 
enthusiasm of the documents he had just seen. L.-H. Vincent, the 
distinguished Dominican scholar and a fixture at the French 
monastery for forty years, noting that this was the Dutch monk’s first 
visit to Jerusalem, suggested he should not be taken in so easily. 
Perhaps, thought the learned Vincent, if Samuel could produce 
pottery from the alleged context where the writings had been found 
it might help to sustain his claims. When no pottery was 
forthcoming Van der Ploeg did not pursue the matter further. 


The Metropolitan Samuel continued to make attempts to find 
scholarly help with the scrolls and even attempted to learn Hebrew. 
At one point a chance business contact resulted in the inspection of 
the scrolls by two men from the library of Hebrew University. 
According to Samuel, they said they wished to photograph a few 
parts for further study. The monastery was placed at their disposal 
for such purposes, but they never returned, perhaps because of the 
increasing danger to a Jew in the Old City. A little later an antiquities 
dealer suggested sending the manuscripts to Europe or America 
where they could be evaluated. But with postal services breaking 
down under the weight of civil conflict Samuel thought it not a good 
idea to place his materials in the mails. 

In late January 1948 the St. Mark’s manuscripts came temporarily 
into the hands of E. L. Sukenik, the distinguished archaeologist of the 
Hebrew University. Unknown to all but a very few, Sukenik had had 
other scrolls from the Bedouin’s discovery in his hands since the 
previous November. His story illustrates the chaotic conditions and 
personal danger of those times. 

On Sunday, November 23, 1947, Sukenik received a message from an 
Armenian friend of his, Faidi Salahi, a dealer in antiquities. He had 
something of interest to show the scholar. The next morning, 
according to the professor’s dramatic account, the two met across 
one of the barbed wire barricades the British were erecting in an 
effort to keep violent factions apart. The Armenian held up a scrap of 
leather. On it were Hebrew characters, which Sukenik immediately 
recognized as being similar to those he had seen on early Jewish 
funeral ossuaries. For the briefest moment he thought it must be a 
forgery of some sort. He had never heard of this kind of script on 
leather, parchment, or papyrus other than the Nash. But the man 
holding it was an old and trusted friend, and besides, the fragment 
had all the appearances of authenticity. There and then he made up 
his mind to buy the document from which it came. Could other 
fragments be seen? Yes, said the Armenian, they were in Bethlehem. 
Could they be brought to Jerusalem? Yes. 

On Thursday Sukenik, now armed with a pass that allowed him 
through the barricades, went to his friend’s shop and viewed 
additional pieces of the manuscript. He was convinced. He must go 
to Bethlehem and deal directly with the Arab dealer who had the 
document in his possession. For Sukenik to visit an Arab area 
involved great personal risk. Moreover, the very next day the United 


Nations was scheduled to vote on the partition of Palestine. 
Whichever way the vote went, wholesale hostilities were almost sure 
to follow. His wife and his son, Yigael (Yadin), then commander of 
the Jewish armed forces, knew the danger and argued against it. 
Persuasion put off the fulfillment of an archaeologist’s dream. Then 
the UN delayed its vote. Jerusalem held its breath. It was an opening 
for Sukenik. The day was November 29, 1947. 

There is a good deal of confusion about the events of that day with 
reference to the Dead Sea Scrolls. According to one story Sukenik 
risked his life by going to Arab Bethlehem. There, according to this 
version, he was shown three scrolls and was even allowed to bring 
them back to Jerusalem. According to another account, an Arab 
friend of the professor’s brought them to him in Jerusalem. No 
matter. The net result is the same. Sukenik came into possession of 
three scrolls, which turned out to be the War Scroll, the 
Thanksgiving Scroll, and another copy of Isaiah in somewhat poorer 
condition than the magnificent Isaiah manuscript then at St. Mark’s. 

The day after these ancient Hebrew scrolls came to Hebrew 
University the United Nations voted to partition Palestine. Much 
moved by both events Sukenik felt there was something symbolic in 
the coincidence. Full of joy at the acquisition of the documents, the 
professor told almost anyone who would listen of his good fortune. 
About a week later he told one of the university librarians. In 
astonished silence Sukenik listened to a tale this man had to relate. 
Some months before, he and another of the library staff had gone to 
St. Mark’s Monastery in the Old City to have a look at some 
manuscripts. The Syrian Metropolitan wanted to know their content 
and age and whether Hebrew University might wish to acquire them. 
They were written in Samaritan, the two librarians decided, and were 
not very old. A little later he had called St. Mark’s with the offer of a 
Samaritan specialist, but Samuel was away. So the matter was 

Stunned, Sukenik could not believe what he was being told. Those so- 
called Samaritan manuscripts were part of the collection he now had, 
he was sure of it. His impulse was to go by St. Mark’s on his way 
home, but the Old City was now securely in Arab hands and no one 
entered without a pass. This he was not likely to get, since his son 
was who he was. Even if by some miracle he got a pass he had no 
money to offer for the scrolls. 


Sukenik went home and began work on trying to raise funds. Slowly 
from various sources a little money began to accumulate. Sukenik 
thought that about £1,500 (then about $6,075) might be enough. 
Efforts to reach the Syrian priest and open negotiations came to 
nothing. Then, near the end of January, a letter came from the Old 
City, from a man on whose property Sukenik had excavated an early 
Jewish tomb in 1945. His name was Anton Kiraz. He offered to show 
some scrolls that were for sale. Kiraz was a parishioner at St. Mark’s. 
He was, in addition, extremely close to Samuel. Because Sukenik 
excavated on some of Kiraz’s property and was personally known to 
him, Kiraz was admirably situated to act as contact between the 
priest and the professor. 

Kiraz arranged for Sukenik to see the scrolls at the YMCA, which was 
at that time in neutral territory. As soon as he saw them Sukenik 
made an offer of £100 for the materials, as Kiraz recalled. Sukenik, in 
his written recollection of the event, did not mention an offer. 
However that may have been, Kiraz allowed one scroll to be removed 
to Hebrew University for further study. The other documents 
remained in a drawer at the YMCA. The Isaiah Scroll stayed for about 
a week at the university during which time a portion (chapters 42 
and 43) was hastily and somewhat incorrectly copied. When it was 
returned Sukenik spoke of the university’s interest in purchasing all 
of the scrolls. 


10. The Metropolitan Samuel and Butrus Sowmy displaying a scroll from Cave 1. 
John Trever holds the Isaiah Scroll at right. 

John Trever 

According to Kiraz, the figure of £500 ($2,025) was mentioned. But 
Kiraz said he would have to talk with the Metropolitan Samuel. 
Sukenik is said to have increased the offer to £1,000 — 750 for Kiraz, 
250 for Samuel — but Kiraz insisted on talking with the Metropolitan. 
He would contact Sukenik once he had had a chance to discuss the 
offer. There the matter was left. 

At this juncture, in early February 1948 and fully a year since edh- 
Dhib had first slithered into the cave, Samuel’s lifelong friend and 
fellow monk, Butros Sowmy, returned to St. Mark’s after an absence. 
He was a learned man and one of good judgment. With increasing 
concern he heard of Sukenik’s offer and of Samuel’s apparent 
readiness to accept it. If Sukenik were so anxious to secure these 
documents, perhaps, reasoned Sowmy, it would be well to get 
another opinion before selling. Kiraz wrote to the distraught 
professor saying they were not going to sell just now, but would wait 
until the local situation settled a bit and they could perhaps get some 
international judgments and overseas offers. 


Meantime, Sowmy recalled his cordial dealings with the American 
School of Oriental Research just north of the Old City, quite near the 
Ecole Biblique. He telephoned and the call was turned over to John 
Trever, a fellow of the school, who had been left in temporary charge 
during the absence of Millar Burrows, the director. Sowmy asked if 
Trever would help date some old manuscripts that had been lying 
about St. Mark’s library for some years. As a precaution the 
Americans had not gone into the Old City for some time. It was now 
dangerous in the extreme. Could the materials be brought to the 
school? In response Sowmy agreed to present himself and the scrolls 
the next day at 2:30 P.M. 

With mounting excitement Trever examined the manuscripts. The 
writing on the Isaiah Scroll, although clearly Hebrew, was 
nonetheless strange to his eyes. Yet he had seen a similar script 
somewhere. A superb and inveterate photographer, Trever was never 
one to be far away from cameras and their products. On his desk was 
a series of slides dealing with the background of the English Bible. He 
extracted a picture of the ninth-century A.D. British Museum Codex. 
The writing on the scrolls brought by Sowmy was older. Next Trever 
removed a slide of the Nash Papyrus, a second-century fragment and 
the then oldest known Biblical Hebrew. The script was similar, but 
not exactly the same. It was hard to be sure; the slide was much too 
small for detailed comparison in the hand viewer. His cameras 
unfortunately at the moment at the Museum of the Department of 
Antiquities, Trever copied by hand that portion of the manuscript 
open before him. He then proposed to Sowmy that a complete 
photographic record be made of all the scrolls. The monk was 
agreeable but would have to discuss it with his superior. 

Sowmy left. Trever soon determined that what he had copied was a 
portion of chapter 65 of Isaiah. Was the rest of Isaiah on that scroll? 
Could it be as old as the Nash Papyrus? Early the next morning, after 
an almost sleepless night, Trever determined to go to St. Mark’s in 
spite of the danger. With the aid of Miss Faris, the Arab secretary of 
the American School, he secured the necessary permissions and 
risking life and limb was taken by her through the narrow, hazardous 
streets to the Syrian monastery. There he met the Metropolitan, who 
was at length convinced the manuscripts should again be brought to 
the school where there was photographic equipment and better 
conditions for obtaining good results than in St. Mark’s dim library. 

For the rest of the day Trever and William Brownlee culled from the 


library of the American School all the material they could find about 
ancient manuscripts. Unfortunately fighting and sabotage interrupted 
Jerusalem’s electric service in the afternoon. After working by 
kerosene lamps late into the night the two men were convinced that 
the form of the script on the Isaiah Scroll was as old as or older than 
the Nash Papyrus. 

The next day, a Saturday, dawned bright — on the outside, that is. The 
lights were still out inside the school. By 9:30 the Metropolitan and 
Father Sowmy were there with the materials to be photographed. 
Just as Trever was about to use natural light from a window, the 
electric lights came on. With Brownlee’s help two scrolls, Isaiah and 
the Habakkuk Commentary, were unrolled and photographed. By late 
afternoon the task was not complete. Three scrolls remained. But by 
this time the two young Americans had won the confidence of the 
Syrians, who gladly left the unrecorded scrolls and a fragment behind 
as they returned to St. Mark’s. Among the many happenstances 
surrounding the scrolls none was more felicitous than the presence of 
so fine a photographer as Trever. His record of the contents of the 
four Dead Sea Scrolls from the Syrian monastery (a fifth was too 
delicate to be opened then) now constitutes the finest material 
available for study of these documents. This is especially so since the 
originals have faded from exposure despite the best of care under 
controlled conditions. 

Subsequent excavations at the caves indicated the scrolls had been 
damaged when they were removed from their jars and unwrapped. 
Fragments from the manuscripts were on the floor of the cave. The 
documents had also been stripped of their linen protection and 
carried about in sacks, paper bags, and otherwise. But at last the 
precious scrolls were in loving hands. Before return to St. Mark’s 
they were carefully wrapped. The seriously deteriorated leather 
scroll was placed in a specially constructed box. While this was going 
on, Trever sent photographic copies to the doyen of Palestinian 
archaeologists and the leading expert on ancient forms of writing, W. 
F. Albright at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. 

In the following days Trever, sometimes accompanied by Burrows, 
now returned, made numerous trips to St. Mark’s, each journey 
fraught with its own several perils. Often guards were provided by 
the monastery to insure safety. At least once the scrolls were returned 
to the American School. Trever was not pleased with all his initial 
pictures. Ever a perfectionist in matters photographic he wished to 


retake the Isaiah Scroll. This involved a difficult search of the shops 
of the city for proper film. Only outdated portrait film was located. 
But Trever rejoiced to find even this. 

On March 15 a letter from the United States reached the school: 

My heartiest congratulations on the greatest manuscript discovery of 
modern times! There is no doubt in my mind that the script is more 
archaic than that of the Nash Papyrus ... I should prefer a date around 
100 B.C.! . . . What an absolutely incredible find! And there can happily 
not be the slightest doubt in the world about the genuineness of the 

Albright’s practiced eyes had confirmed the Metropolitan’s hopes and 
the scholarly judgment of Trever and Brownlee. 

Two weeks later steadily increasing violence forced the abandonment 
of the American School. Trever was the last to go. He left on April 5. 
Samuel, under various urgings, sought a safe place for his scrolls. St. 
Mark’s was a particularly vulnerable location. Sowmy suggested a 
bank vault in Beirut as a safer place. (Shortly thereafter Sowmy was 
killed by bomb fragments as he stood in the courtyard at St. Mark’s.) 
Beirut became the way station for the manuscripts on their journey 
to America, where the Metropolitan later took them. 

In the end Burrows, Trever, and Brownlee were able to continue their 
work on the texts and to publish them. Now famous, the Dead Sea 
Scrolls were displayed at various locations in the United States and 
seen by thousands. The publicity enhanced their value but the 
Metropolitan’s attempts to sell were clouded by claims to the scrolls 
by Jordan and the new nation of Israel, as well as by the go-between 
Anton Kiraz. Confusion over ownership was such that Yale and Duke 
universities found reasons not to buy the scrolls. Yale bought a 
Boswell diary for a reported $450,000. Duke built another building. 
The Library of Congress displayed the scrolls but showed little 
interest in purchasing them. At last they came to rest in a specially 
prepared safe in the home of a Syrian Orthodox Christian in 
Worcester, Massachusetts. 

Meanwhile, all scholars did not agree with the judgment of Professor 
Albright and that of a vast and growing host. Tovia Wechsler, a 
journalist and something of a Hebraist, who had been one of the first 
to see the scrolls and who at the time had laughed them away, 
attacked Trever for his views and stoutly maintained that the story of 


the find was a hoax. Not only the manuscripts were under attack. 
Metropolitan Samuel was declared an outlaw in Jordan and found his 
integrity and reputation a matter of widespread debate. He decided to 
sell the scrolls by whatever means at hand. One way was a simple 
newspaper ad. On June 1, 1954, the following appeared in The Wall 
Street Journal. 



Biblical manuscripts dating back to at least 200 B.C. are for sale. This 
would be an ideal gift to an educational or religious institution by an 
individual or group. Box F 206 Wall Street Journal 

On July 1, after some delicate negotiations, the scrolls, accompanied 
by the Metropolitan and two others, came to the Waldorf-Astoria 
Hotel in New York. There they met Mr. Sidney Esteridge, the would- 
be purchaser, with his lawyers and several experts. The price, 
$250,000, had been agreed upon in advance. It was a bargain by any 
realistic standard. After considerable discussion of various details in 
the bill of sale, the matter was consummated. Three months later the 
“Archbishop Samuel Trust” to aid Syrian Orthodox churches was 
considerably enriched. But the legal papers for the trust were not 
properly drawn. The sum was reported as personal income and the 
United States Internal Revenue Service got most of the purchase 

For all the Metropolitan knew the scrolls were in the private 
collection of a rich American. In February 1955 the Israeli prime 
minister announced that these four manuscripts were in Israel. How 
the scrolls came into the possession of the state of Israel remained 
somewhat of a mystery until Professor Yigael Yadin told the story. He 
tells how, on a visit to America, his attention was called to the 
newspaper ad. He knew the value of the materials and remembered 
the agonizing attempt of his father, Professor Sukenik, to obtain the 
scrolls in January of 1948. Yadin determined to try to buy the 
documents for the state of Israel. A direct approach was unwise. 
Thus a subterfuge was invented. Mr. Esteridge was in fact acting on 
behalf of Yadin and the Israeli government. 


The four scrolls formerly in Metropolitan Samuel’s possession thus 
were returned to Jerusalem to be with other major scrolls from Cave 
1 at Qumran. They came to Hebrew University, which Professor 
Sukenik had honored with his knowledge for so long. But it was too 
late for Sukenik. He had died a year earlier, writing in his diary that 

“the Jewish people (had) lost a precious heritage.” Thanks to the 
diligence of his son, the scrolls had come full circle, through the 
hands of shepherds, clerics, and scholars, Muslims, Christians, and 
Jews, to their present home in the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem. 





In this chapter, the eminent Harvard scholar Frank Cross discusses 
the dating of the scrolls and how the dates were arrived at, 
introducing us to palaeography, the science — or art — of analyzing 
ancient writing, and to the excavations at the site adjacent to the 
caves where the scrolls were found. He also gives his reasons for 
identifying the inhabitants of Qumran as members of a religious 
sect called Essenes. Cross is convinced that his identification is 
correct — and his view still represents the mainstream of 
scholarship. On the other hand, a number of scholars have more 
recently questioned this identification. In the next two chapters 
two younger scholars — Lawrence Schiffman of New York 
University and James VanderKam of Notre Dame University— 
vigorously debate this question. In this chapter, Professor Cross 
describes Essene beliefs, as reflected in the Dead Sea Scrolls. 
Whether or not he is correct that the Qumran sectarians were 
Essenes, his views on the contents of the scrolls are beautifully 
expressed and widely agreed upon. His description of the 
theological views of the Qumran sectarians is indeed profound. 
Finally, Cross attempts to place the history of the Essenes (in his 
view, the Qumran community) in a specific historical context, 
even identifying the Wicked Priest who is vilified so frequently in 
the Dead Sea Scrolls. 



After a quarter century of discovery and publication, the study of the 
manuscripts from the desert of Judah has entered a new, more 
mature phase. True, the heat and noise of the early controversies 
have not wholly dissipated. One occasionally hears the agonized cry 
of a scholar pinned beneath a collapsed theory. And in the popular 
press, no doubt, the so-called battle of the scrolls will continue to be 
fought with mercenaries for some time to come. However, the initial 
period of confusion is past. From the burgeoning field of scroll 
research and the new disciplines it has created, certain coherent 
patterns of fact and meaning have emerged. 

The scrolls and the people who wrote them can be placed within a 
broad historical framework with relative certainty by virtue of 
external controls provided by the archaeologist and the 
palaeographer. Once the scrolls are placed in a particular time 
period, the historian must begin his difficult task — difficult because 
internal data from the scrolls pose special historiographic problems 
resulting from their esoteric language. The usual methods of 
historical criticism are difficult to apply without excessive 

The archaeological context of the community of the Dead Sea — its 
caves, its community center at Qumran, and its agricultural adjunct 
at Ein Feshkha — has been established by six major seasons of 
excavations. The ancient center of Qumran has yielded a clear 
archaeological stratification, and in turn the strata are closely dated 
by their yield of artifacts, notably coins. For the era in which we are 
especially interested, the site exhibits three phases. The first of these, 
so-called Period la, consists of the remains of the earliest communal 
structures. In Period lb the settlement was almost completely rebuilt 
and enlarged. The coins suggest that the buildings of the second phase 
were constructed no later than the time of Alexander Jannaeus (103- 
76 B.C.). The dating of the first phase is more difficult. So 
thoroughly were the structures of the first phase rebuilt that only the 
barest foundations were left. The problem is further complicated by 
the relatively short life and small size of the first phase; few coins 
accumulate in foundations in the first years of occupation. Moreover, 
coins have a considerable period of currency. When Alexander 
Jannaeus introduced the new Jewish coinage, coins of the Seleucid 
kings continued to circulate. The earliest coins of Period la appear to 
be five Seleucid coppers of imprecise date from the reign of 
Antiochus VII Sidetes (138-129 B.C.). This and other coin evidence 
indicate that the first buildings were probably constructed at the site 


in the desert of Qumran sometime in the interval between 140 and 
100 B.C. 

In the second phase, Period lb, the community center took its 
permanent form, though extensions or repairs of a minor sort were 
introduced before the destruction of its buildings in the earthquake 
of 31 B.C., reported by the first-century historian Josephus. After a 
short, but indeterminate period of abandonment, the site — in the 
third phase — was reoccupied, rebuilt, and repaired precisely on the 
plan of the old communal complex. It flourished until 68 A.D., when 
it was stormed and occupied by the forces of the Roman emperor 
Vespasian in the course of his raid on Jericho. 

Theoretically, I suppose, the communities occupying the ruins in 

each of these phases need not have been related. In fact, the 
community of the second and third, and no doubt the little known 
first phase, was one continuing community. It takes more than the 
historian’s normally vivacious imagination to conceive of two 
communities, following one upon another and leading the peculiar 
life reflected at Qumran without having a relationship to one 
another. The very setting of the community requires a special 
explanation. Only powerful motivations would send a large group of 
persons into this wasteland. But more difficult to explain than the 
desolate environment chosen by the desert folk is the special 
character of the community center. The center was composed of 
communal facilities for study, writing, eating, domestic industries, 
and common stores. The members of the community did not live in 
the buildings (for the most part, at any rate) but in caves and shelters 
radiating out from the central buildings. Thus, the architectural 
functions of the rooms and structures require a special mode of 
religious and communalistic life. We can conclude only that the 
people of the scrolls founded the community in the second half of the 
second century B.C. and occupied it, with a brief interruption in the 
reign of Herod the Great, until the dreadful days of the Jewish Revolt 
(66-70 A.D.), which culminated in the Roman destruction of the 
Jewish state. Corroboration of this dating of the archaeological 
evidence is immediately furnished by the palaeographical analysis of 
some eight hundred manuscripts recovered from Qumran. 

The main lines of the evolution of the late Aramaic and early Jewish 
book-handwriting had already been fixed on the basis of documents 

and inscriptions analyzed between the two world wars. Now, thanks 


to the discoveries in the Judean desert, the science of early Jewish 
palaeography has grown rich in materials for the typology of 

scripts. These discoveries include not only the manuscripts of 
Qumran in Palaeo- Hebrew, Jewish, and Greek bookhands, but also 
the important discoveries from the Wadi Murabba'at and the Nahal 
Hever, written in both formal and cursive Jewish hands, as well as in 
Greek, Latin, and Nabatean. While these discoveries have occupied 
the center of the stage, other discoveries from the Wadi ed-Daliyeh 
north of Jericho, from the excavations of Khirbet Qumran, from the 
tombs of Jerusalem, from Khirbet el-Kom, and from the excavations 
at Masada, to mention only the most important, have steadily 
expanded, extending our knowledge of the evolution and relative 
dating of early Jewish scripts. 

Not only do we now possess ample materials for precise typological 
analysis of the scripts of the Qumran manuscripts, we have also 
accumulated a series of externally dated scripts by which the relative 
dates gained by typological study can be turned into absolute dates. 
Most striking no doubt are the documents bearing date formulae of 
the late fourth century B.C. (Daliyeh), of the third century (el-Kom), 
and of the first century and second century of the Christian era 
(Qumran, Murabba'at, and Hever), which overlap in part and extend 
the Qumran series backward and forward in time. To these may be 
added documents from excavations, notably from Qumran itself and 
Masada, dated by archaeological context to the first century B.C. and 

The scripts from Qumran belong to three periods of palaeographical 
development. A very small group of biblical manuscripts belong to an 
archaic style whose limits are about 250 — 150 B.C. Next, a large 
number of Qumran manuscripts, biblical and nonbiblical, were 
written in a style reflecting the Hasmonean period, that is, between 
150 and 30 B.C. However, scrolls of specifically sectarian content, 
many composed and copied at Qumran, begin only about the middle 
of the Hasmonean period, that is, about 100 B.C. Finally, there is a 
relatively large corpus of Herodian manuscripts dating between 30 
B.C. and 70 A.D. 

The termination of the series with late Herodian hands correlates 
precisely with the archaeological data. The library was abandoned at 
the time of the destruction of the community in 68 A.D. We must in 
turn establish the origins of the community no later than the date of 


the earliest sectarian compositions, that is, somewhat before 100 B.C. 
Nonsectarian scrolls, especially the biblical manuscripts, begin in 
quantity about 150 B.C. Scrolls of the archaic period are exceedingly 
rare and were probably master scrolls brought into the community at 
the time of its founding. Extant copies of such characteristic 
sectarian scrolls as the Rule of the Community and the Damascus 
Document go back to the beginning of the first century B.C. Sectarian 
commentaries on Habakkuk, Nahum, and other biblical works date 
mostly from the second half of the first century B.C. and contain 
traditional lore of biblical interpretation developed in the community 
in its earlier history and precipitated into writing relatively late in 
the life of the sect. 

Extant classical texts that treat the second century B.C. mention four 
Jewish movements in Judea: the Hasidim, a pious “congregation” 
that disappeared in the Maccabean/Hasmonean era (175-63 B.C.), 

and three orders that emerge no later than the early Hasmonean era 
and presumably have their roots in the Maccabean period. These are 
the Essenes, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees. Of these three, only 
the Essene order can be described as separatist, in the radical sense 
that they regarded themselves as the only true Israel and separated 
themselves fully from contact with their fellow Jews. Josephus 
informs us that the Essenes rejected even the sacrificial service of the 
Temple as unclean and “offered their sacrifices by themselves.” Pliny 
the Elder (or rather his sources) tells us of their “city” in the 
wilderness between Jericho and Ein Gedi near the shore of the Dead 
Sea — where the Qumran ruins are located. 

This reference in Pliny is decisive in identifying the sectarians of 
Qumran with the Essenes, in the absence of strong counterarguments. 
We know of no other sect arising in the second century B.C. that can 
be associated with the wilderness community. Surface exploration 
has turned up no rival settlement in the crucial era. Further, the 
community at Qumran was organized precisely as a new Israel, a true 
sect that repudiated the priesthood and cults of Jerusalem. Neither 
the Pharisees nor the Sadducees can qualify. The Essenes qualify 
perfectly. There is no reason to belabor the point. A careful 
examination of the classical references side by side with the texts of 
Qumran establishes the identification, in my opinion, beyond cavil. 

The strongest argument that has been raised against the identification 
of the Qumran sect with the Essenes is as follows: Since Palestine 


“swarmed” with obscure sects in the first century of the Christian 
era, one must exercise caution in assigning the Dead Sea sect to a 
known group. The argument had plausibility only when a few 
manuscripts of uncertain date were known. 

The Qumran sect was not one of the small, ephemeral groups of the 
first century of the Common Era. Its substantial community at 
Qumran was established in the second century B.C. and flourished 
some two centuries or more. Moreover, it was not restricted to 
Qumran, but, like the Essenes of the classical sources, counted its 
camps and settlements throughout the villages of Judah. 

Its own sectarian literature was enormous, exercising a considerable 
influence upon later sectarian, including Christian, literature. The 
task, therefore, is to identify a major sect in Judaism. To suppose 
that a major group in Judaism in this period went unnoticed in our 
sources is simply incredible. 

The scholar who would “exercise caution” in identifying the sect of 
Qumran with the Essenes places himself in an astonishing position: 
He must suggest seriously that two major parties formed 
communalistic religious communities in the same district of the 
desert of the Dead Sea and lived together in effect for two centuries, 
holding similar bizarre views, performing similar or rather identical 
lustrations, ritual meals, and ceremonies. He must suppose that one, 
carefully described by classical authors, disappeared without leaving 
building remains or even potsherds behind; the other, systematically 
ignored by the classical sources, left extensive ruins, and indeed a 
great library. I prefer to be reckless and flatly identify the men of 
Qumran with their perennial houseguests, the Essenes. At all events, 
in what follows, I shall assume the identification and draw freely 
upon both classical and Qumran texts. 

The Essenes of Qumran were a priestly party. Their leader was a 
priest. The archenemy of the sect was a priest, usually designated the 
Wicked Priest. In protocols of the Essene community, the priests 
took precedence, and in the age to come, a messiah priest ranked 
above the traditional Davidic or royal messiah. There is some reason 
to believe that the sect conducted a sacrificial system in its 
community at Qumran. At any rate, the community was preoccupied 
with priestly lore, ceremonial law, the orders of the priests, and the 
liturgical calendar; many of their sectarian compositions reflect their 
almost obsessive interest in priestly orthopraxy (i.e., correct 


orthodox practice and observance). 

The community referred to its priesthood as “sons of Zadok,” that is, 
members of the ancient line of high priests established in Scripture. 
At the same time, they heaped scorn and bitter condemnation upon 
the ungodly priests of Jerusalem, who, they argued, were 
illegitimate. This animosity toward the priests in power in Judah on 
the part of the priests at Qumran did not stem merely from doctrinal 
differences. Our texts rather reflect a historical struggle for power 
between high priestly families. The Essenes withdrew in defeat and 
formed their community in exile, which was organized as a counter- 
Israel led by a counterpriesthood, or, viewed with Essene eyes, as the 
true Israel of God led by the legitimate priesthood. The theocrat of 
Jerusalem, the so-called Wicked Priest, attacked the Essene 
priesthood, even in exile, and made an attempt on the life of the 
Righteous Teacher, the Essene priestly leader. For their part, the 
Essene priests confidently expected divine intervention to establish 
their cause. They predicted that the Wicked Priest and his cronies 
would meet violent death at the hand of God and their enemies; and 
they searched Scripture for prophecies of the end of days when they, 
the poor of the desert, would be reestablished in a new, transfigured 

Mention of the Essene hopes of a New Age of glory leads us naturally 
to some comments on the special theological views of the Essenes 
that informed their understanding of history and gave to their 
community its peculiar institutions. The Essenes belong in the center 
of that movement, which goes under the designation apocalypticism. 
The late visionaries of the Old Testament, notably the author of 
Daniel, as well as the later Baptist and Christian communities, 
discovered themselves to be living in the last days of the Old Age, or 
rather in the days when the Old Age was passing away and the 
Kingdom of God was dawning. According to apocalypticism, the 
upsurge of evil powers in history reflected the last defiant outbreak 
of cosmic Satanic powers. The gifts of the Holy Spirit, manifest in 
the community of the faithful, adumbrated the age of the Spirit to 
follow the final war in which the Spirit of Truth and his heavenly 
armies would put an end to the rule of the powers of darkness. 

The constitution of the Essene community was a crystallized 
apocalyptic vision. Each institution and practice of the community 
was a preparation for or, by anticipation, a realization of, life in the 
New Age of God’s rule. On the one hand, their communal life was a 


reenactment of the events of the end time, both the final days of the 
Old Age and the era of Armageddon. On the other hand, their 
community, being heir of the kingdom, participated already in the 
gifts and glories that were the first fruits of the age to come. 

For the apocalyptist of Qumran, the key to these future mysteries 
was at hand. One had only to read biblical prophecies with the 
understanding given the inspired interpreter (that is, one who reads 
under the power of the Holy Spirit), because the secrets of events to 
come in the last days were foretold by God through the mouth of his 
holy prophets. So the Essenes searched the Scriptures. They 
developed a body of traditional exegesis, no doubt inspired by 
patterns laid down by their founder, which is reflected in most of 
their works, above all in their biblical commentaries, pesharim, in 
which their common tradition was fixed in writing. 

In apocalyptic exegesis, three principles should be kept in mind. 
Prophecy openly or cryptically refers to the last days. Second, the so- 
called last days are in fact the present, the days of the sect’s life. And, 
finally, the history of ancient Israel’s redemption, her offices and 
institutions, are prototypes of the events and figures of the new 

On this basis, the Essene camp in the wilderness found its prototype 
in the Mosaic camp of Numbers (see Numbers 2-4; 9:15-10:28). The 
Essenes retired to Qumran to “prepare the way of the Lord” in the 
wilderness. As God established his ancient covenant in the desert, so 
the Essenes entered into the new covenant on their return to the 
desert. As Israel in the desert was mustered into army ranks in 
preparation for the Holy War of conquest, so the Essenes marshaled 
their community in battle array and wrote liturgies of the Holy 
Warfare of Armageddon, living for the day of the second conquest 
when they would march with their messianic leaders to Zion. 
Meanwhile, they kept the laws of purity laid down in Scripture for 
soldiers in Holy Warfare, an ascetic regimen that at the same time 
anticipated life with the holy angels before the throne of God, a 
situation requiring similar ritual purity. 

The offices of the sect reveal this apocalyptic typology. The council 
of the community was numbered after the princes of Israel and Levi 
in the desert; at the same time, they prefigured the judges who 
would rule the tribes of Israel in the New Age. As God sent Moses, 
Aaron, and David, so they looked for three messiahs — prophet, 


priest, and prince. The founder of their community bore a biblical 
sobriquet, the “Righteous Teacher” (from Hosea 10:12 and Joel 
2:23), apparently understood as the title of a priestly forerunner of 
the messianic age. And even the enemies of the sect, the False Oracle, 
the Wrathful Lion, and so on, all bore designations culled ingeniously 
from prophecy. 

The great external events of history of their times were discovered in 
the Scriptures, predicted as signs of the last days: the Seleucid rule, 
the wars of the Hasmoneans, the rise of the Romans, and the 
conquest of Palestine by Pompey. And the internal events of sectarian 
life and history were rehearsed even more dramatically in the sayings 
of the prophets. Here we come upon one of the major difficulties in 
writing Essene history. Major political events and, from our point of 
view, minor or private events in the life of the sect are mixed in their 
expositions of Scripture in dizzying fashion, and as if this were not 
bad enough, the whole is veiled in the esoteric language of 

To sum up, the Essenes of Qumran were a community formed and 
guided by a party of Zadokite priests. In the latter half of the second 
century B.C., having lost hope of regaining their ancient authority in 
the theocracy of Jerusalem and under active persecution by a new 
house of reigning priests, they fled to the desert. There, finding new 
hope in apocalyptic dreams, they readied themselves for the 
imminent judgment when their enemies would be vanquished and 
they, God’s elect, would be given final victory in accordance with the 
predictions of the prophets. 

It is not difficult to identify the priestly conflict out of which the 
dissident Essene party emerged. In the days of Antiochus IV 
Epiphanes (175-163 B.C.), the orderly succession of Zadokite high 
priests failed. The high priestly office became a prize dispensed by 
the Seleucid overlord Antiochus, to be purchased by the highest 
bidder. The strife between rivals for the theocratic office soon 
developed into civil war, and in the resulting chaos Antiochus found 
opportunity to carry out his fearful massacres, terminating in the 
notorious desecration of the Temple and the Hellenization of Holy 
Jerusalem. The stage was set for the rise of the Maccabees, whose 
destiny it was to lead the Jews in a heroic war of independence, and 
who, having won popularity by freeing Judah from foreign 
suzerains, themselves usurped the high priestly office. In this way, 
the ancient Zadokite house gave way to the lusty, if illegitimate, 


Hasmonean dynasty. Essene origins are to be discovered precisely in 
the struggle between these priestly houses and their adherents. 

Perhaps the historian should say no more. However, historical 
allusions in Essene biblical commentaries tempt one to reconstruct 
the origins of the Qumran sect more precisely. We should like to 
know the identity of the Wicked Priest of Jerusalem and to fix more 
exactly the occasion for the flight and persecution of the sectarians; 
and we should like, if possible, to relate the Essene sect to the other 
Jewish parties, especially to the Pharisees who came into being in 
the same historical milieu. Perhaps it is too much to ask the identity 
of the Essene Teacher or of other sectarian figures who, from the 
standpoint of general history, played insignificant roles. 

Scholarly debate on these more precise details of Essene history 
continues. No consensus has fully emerged. My own views 
underwent a major change as the archaeological and palaeographical 
data piled up and narrowed options. Nevertheless, I think it is very 
likely that the Wicked Priest of Jerusalem can be identified with the 
High Priest Simon Maccabeus, the last and perhaps the greatest of 
the five Maccabean brothers. In February of 134 B.C., Simon together 
with Judas (probably his eldest son) and Mattathias (his youngest) 
toured the cities of Judah, evidently reviewing fortifications that he 
had built or that were in the process of construction. On their tour, 
Simon and his sons descended to Jericho. Jericho was administered 
under Simon by one Ptolemy, son of Abubos. Ptolemy had ambitions 
to rule Judea and he organized a plot of considerable proportions. 

Ptolemy’s opportunity came upon the occasion of Simon’s visit to 
Jericho. Ptolemy held a banquet for his victims in a newly completed 
fortress guarding Jericho. When Simon and his sons were drunk, 
Ptolemy’s men murdered Simon, and later his two sons. Ultimately 
Ptolemy’s plot failed. John Hyrcanus, Simon’s remaining son, who 
was then in Gezer, eluded assassins sent to slay him and escaped to 
Jerusalem in time to rally loyal Jews against the forces sent by 
Ptolemy to take the city. Ptolemy sent to Antiochus VII Sidetes for 
immediate aid. Although he arrived too late to succor Ptolemy, 
Antiochus was successful in reducing the country and in forcing 
Jerusalem to surrender. 

These events comport well with certain historical allusions found in 
the so-called List of Testimonia from Cave 4 at Qumran. One of the 
Testimonia (the fourth) refers to a “Cursed One,” predicted in 


Joshua 6:26. The passage in Joshua follows the account of the 
ancient destruction of Jericho and reads this way: “May the Lord’s 
curse light on the man who comes forward to rebuild this city of 
Jericho: The laying of its foundations shall cost him his eldest son, 
the setting up of its gates shall cost him his youngest.” 

The curse was once fulfilled when in the ninth century B.C. Jericho 
was rebuilt by a certain Hiel with the loss of his sons (see 1 Kings 
16:34). The Essenes chose this particular text, once fulfilled, and 
reapplied it to their own time. The Testimonia, partly reconstructed, 
reads in part as follows: 

And behold, a cursed man, a man of Belial, shall come to power to be a 
trapper’s snare and ruin to all his neighbors, and he shall come to power 
and (his sons) . . . (with him), the two of them becoming violent 
instruments, and they shall rebuild again the (city . . . and shall set) up a 
wall and towers for it, to make a stronghold of wickedness (in the land and 
a great evil) in Israel and horrors in Ephraim and in Judah . . . (and they 
shall com)mit sacrilege in the land and great contumely among the 
children of (Jacob and blo)od (shall be poured out) like water on the 
battlement of the daughter of Zion and in the district of Jerusalem. 

If we follow the pattern of close apocalyptic exegesis that normally 
obtains in sectarian exposition of Scripture, we must look for an 
event connected with the fortification of Jericho by a major enemy of 
the sect when the dreadful curse of Joshua repeated itself. And 
properly, we must look for a high priest of Jerusalem who associated 
his sons with him in his rule. 

The events concerning the murder of Simon and his two sons in 
Jericho when they came to inspect the new fortifications at Jericho, 
as well as the bloody aftermath of their triple assassination, seem to 
explain adequately the resurrection of the old curse on Jericho by the 
Essenes. Most of the elements of the prophecy fit strikingly; the 
association of the cursed man with two sons in the fortification 
overlooking Jericho, their death at the hands of Ptolemy’s henchmen 
as evidence of the effectiveness of the curse, and the subsequent 
devastation and bloodshed in Judah and Jerusalem. I find it very 
difficult not to conclude that Simon is established as the Cursed Man 
of the Testimonia. 

Is this Cursed Man identical with the Wicked Priest? The other 
Testimonia relate to the messianic prophet, priest, and king, as well 
as to the priestly forerunner of the New Age who founded the sect. 


The juxtaposition of the Cursed Man with the other central figures of 
the sect strongly suggests that the Cursed Man is in fact the Wicked 

Jonathan (162-142 B.C.), the second of the Maccabean brothers, not 
Simon, was the first to usurp the high priestly office, and some have 
suggested that it is he who should be identified with the Wicked 
Priest. Several historical factors, however, make this choice unlikely. 
Jonathan’s position was tenuous throughout his term in the office. 
Jewish independence was not to be fully won until the reign of 
Simon. To the end of his days Jonathan struggled to maintain himself 
against foreign foes. It seems unlikely that he was sufficiently secure 
to turn upon his fellow Jews and persecute the Zadokites (Essenes); 
moreover, in view of the de facto nature of his theocratic rule and 
the uncertainty of the times, the Zadokite priests would not have 
abandoned hope and fled Jerusalem upon the occasion of Jonathan’s 
donning the high priestly robes. On the contrary, we should expect 
that move only to initiate hostilities between the orthodox and the 
Maccabean nationalists. 

Simon, Jonathan’s successor, brought to fulfillment his brothers’ 
national dreams. In the second year of his rule he succeeded in 
driving out the Syrian garrison from the citadel in Jerusalem. Judea 
only then became fully free of the Seleucid yoke. Simon ruled in 
peace and was at liberty to consolidate his realm. In 140 B.C., the 
third year of his reign, a great assembly was held “of the priests and 
people and heads of the nation and the elders of the country.” The 
work of the assembly and the significance of its decree for the history 
of the high priesthood cannot be overestimated. The decree of the 
assembly was engraved in bronze and set up on stelae on Mount Zion. 
Simon was made high priest de jure and the high priesthood was 
given to Simon’s house forever, “until a faithful prophet should 
arise” (1 Maccabees 14:30-39). The claim is here made to a legal 
transference of the high priesthood from the Zadokite dynasty 
(appointed by David!) to the Hasmonean dynasty. The illegitimacy of 
Simon’s house is admitted tacitly in the phrase “until a faithful 
prophet arise,” that is, until a final arbiter between the rival houses 
appears in the age to come. Further, the decree warned against any 
opposition to Simon by layman or priest, prohibited private 
assembly, and threatened punishment to anyone who acted contrary 
to the stipulations of the decree. 

In this decree we can clearly discern the new high priest’s 


determination to stamp out opposition, to persecute those who 
refused to recognize the full legitimacy of his office. This program, 
falling in the early years of Simon, seems to give the appropriate 
occasion for the crystallization of the Essene sect, its persecution and 
the persecution of the Righteous Teacher, and the exile in the 
wilderness of Judah. Simon had the leisure, power, popularity, and 
inclination to root out Jewish opposition to the ascendancy of his 
party and his house. Certain texts, especially the Testimonia, give 
evidence in support of my identification of the Wicked Priest with 
Simon. Finally, it should not be overlooked that the archaeological 
evidence for the dating of the foundation of the community fits more 
easily with a date in Simon’s reign than with a date in Jonathan’s 

I have not dealt, of course, with a large number of texts relating to 
the Wicked Priest and his relations with the Righteous Teacher and 
the exiled community. Most fit equally well with Jonathan or Simon, 
or indeed with a number of other priests. In this era one cannot 
complain of a shortage of wicked priests. One final text, however, 
deserves mention. In a passage of the Commentary on Habakkuk, the 
expositor comments, “This means the priest whose dishonor was 
greater than his honor. For he . . . walked in the ways of drunkedness 
in order to quench his thirst. But the cup of God’s wrath will 
swallow him up . . . !” The high priest caroused once too often. In 
Jericho, at the hands of Ptolemy, the cup of pleasure turned into the 
cup of wrath and swallowed Simon. So I should interpret the text. 

I have been able to fix the general framework of the Essene 
community’s life in the desert. Perhaps I have succeeded also in 
identifying the villain of the esoteric commentaries. No doubt, I have 
also illustrated the complexities and frustrations that face the student 
of the Essene library from Qumran. 

*The rulers of Judea after the Maccabean revolt were the Hasmonean 










This chapter introduces us to some of the profound disagreements 
among scholars regarding the Dead Sea Scrolls. Yet whoever is 
right, we find valuable background here about which all scholars 

The author of this chapter is a prominent younger Jewish scholar 
who looks at the scrolls more from a Jewish perspective than did 
many earlier scholars. 

His principal thesis is that the Qumran sectarians were not Essenes 
— or if they were, we must radically change our ideas about what 
it meant to be an Essene. He would identify the Qumran sectarians 
as Sadducean, if not Sadducees. 

In considering his argument, we learn a great deal else about the 
scrolls. We are introduced for the first time to the Damascus 
Document, about which we will learn in detail in Chapter 5. We 
also learn about texts from caves other than Cave 1. Indeed, we 
also learn about texts from sites other than Qumran — including 

Schiffman here gives us his overall assessment of the significance of 
the scrolls, how they illuminate Second Temple Judaism, the roots 
of rabbinic Judaism and early Christianity. He sees rabbinic 
Judaism and early Christianity as tracing their ideological sources 
to different strands of Second Temple Judaism. He also explains 


how , in his view, the Qumran library tells a great deal about 
Jewish religious movements other than the Qumran sectarians — 
about the Pharisees and the Sadducees, as well as the Essenes. 
Finally, he explains how Hellenistic influence affected the varieties 
of Second Temple Judaism. 

Whether or not one agrees with everything in this chapter, it is a 
brilliant tour deforce. In the chapter that follows it, James 
VanderKam vigorously disputes Schiffman’s effort to distance the 
Essenes from the Qumran documents. 


Dead Sea Scroll scholarship is undergoing a virtual revolution. New 
ideas and perspectives are percolating among the small group of 
scholars who dedicate themselves to primary research on the content 
of the scrolls. Recent publications focus on major changes in the way 
Dead Sea Scroll research affects our understanding of the history of 
Judaism and Christianity. 

What are these new perspectives? How do they differ from the scroll 
scholarship of the past forty years? What is likely to emerge from the 
still-unpublished materials? These are the questions we will try to 
explore here. 

In a strange way, Dead Sea Scroll research really began fifty years 

before the first Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947. In 1896, a 
Cambridge University scholar named Solomon Schechter traveled to 
Egypt to purchase the remains of the Cairo Genizah, a vast treasure 
trove of Hebrew manuscripts from the storehouse of a synagogue in 
Fostat, Old Cairo. Among the many important documents he 
recovered there were two medieval manuscripts of part of a hitherto 
unknown work now known to scholars as the Damascus Document 
(because it mentions an exile to Damascus). Schechter immediately 
realized that these manuscripts represented the texts of an ancient 

Jewish sect far older than the medieval copies in the Cairo Genizah. 
Another talmudic scholar, Louis Ginzberg, in a later series of articles 

on the Damascus Document, was able to outline the nature of this 
sect — which turned out to be the Dead Sea Scroll sect. Fragments of 
several copies of the Damascus Document were found in Qumran 


Cave 4. Ginzberg realized that the Damascus Document found in the 
Cairo Genizah was the remnant of a sect of Jews that had separated 
from the dominant patterns of Second Temple Judaism before the 

Roman destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. Ginzberg was able to 
describe the laws, the theology, and even aspects of the history of 
this sect. We now know that Ginzberg missed the mark only in regard 
to his emphasis on the closeness of these sectarians to Pharisaism. 

In 1947 in a cave in the cliffs near Wadi Qumran, overlooking the 
Dead Sea just south of Jericho, a shepherd came upon the first of the 
documents now known collectively as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Seven 
scrolls were eventually sold, in two lots, to the Hebrew University 
and the state of Israel, and they are now housed in the Shrine of the 
Book of the Israel Museum. 

As the British mandate over Palestine drew to a close, and the state of 
Israel was proclaimed in 1948, action shifted to the kingdom of 
Jordan, which in the aftermath of Israel’s War of Independence held 
the rocky area where the first scrolls had been found. In the early 
1950s the Bedouin — and, to a much lesser extent, professional 
archaeologists — uncovered enormous numbers of additional 

fragments and some complete scrolls in ten other caves. Particularly 
rich was a site known as Cave 4, in which an estimated fifteen 
thousand fragments — parts of over five hundred different scrolls — 
were discovered. All of these texts were collected at the Palestine 
Archaeological Museum (later the Rockefeller Museum) in east 
Jerusalem, then under Jordanian control. 

The manuscripts were carefully sorted by a team of scholars 
assembled primarily from the American Schools of Oriental Research 
and the Ecole Biblique, the French Catholic biblical and 
archaeological school in Jerusalem. The initial achievements of this 
group were remarkable: They assembled the fragments into larger 
columns, stored in “plates.” They transcribed the texts. They even 
prepared a concordance of all the words in the nonbiblical texts. It 
was only later, in the early 1960s, when funds ran out and other 
factors, both personal and political, intervened, that work came to a 
virtual standstill for almost twenty years. 

The texts in Israel’s hands were promptly published. Indeed, three of 
the scrolls had already been published by the American Schools of 
Oriental Research before Israeli acquisition. The other four scrolls in 


Israeli hands were published by Israeli scholars E. L. Sukenik, 
Nahman Avigad, and Yigael Yadin. 

After the Six-Day War in 1967, the Israelis acquired the last of the 
nearly complete scrolls (as opposed to fragmentary texts), the lengthy 
Temple Scroll. The crown of Israeli scroll achievement was Yigael 

Yadin’s publication of this important text. 

Yadin’s Hebrew publication of the Temple Scroll in 1977 sparked 
renewed interest in the field. At about the same time, significant 
publications from the original Jordanian lot, then in Israeli hands, 
began to appear. Especially important were fragments from the book 

of Enoch, published by J. T. Milik, and liturgical texts published by 

Maurice Baillet. 

While the first generation of Dead Sea Scroll scholars consisted 
primarily of specialists in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, 
the scholars now involved in research on the scrolls are, to a large 
extent, a new generation. These researchers are undertaking the study 
of particularly Jewish issues in the scrolls — Jewish history, law, 
theology, and messianism. It is to this generation that I belong, 
having been occupied almost full time for twenty years in Dead Sea 
Scroll research (Qumran studies, as it is known in the trade). Not 
being bound to the original theories of those who first identified the 
authors of the scrolls, this younger generation of scholars has opened 
anew all kinds of questions pertaining to the origins of the texts. 

The initial battle of the Dead Sea Scrolls involved their date and the 
identity of the people who wrote them. One group of scholars, 
collected around Solomon Zeitlin of Dropsie College in Philadelphia, 
argued that they were medieval documents associated with the 
Karaites, a Jewish sect that based its laws and customs solely on the 

Bible and rejected the Talmud. 

Another group of scholars argued for a late first-century C.E. date. 
They connected the scrolls either with the Zealots (militant Jewish 
rebels in the First Jewish Revolt against Rome, which culminated in 
the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E.) or with early Christians. 

These theories all ultimately failed, resulting in a virtual scholarly 
consensus that the scrolls are to be dated primarily to the Hasmonean 


period (152-63 B.C.E.) and the Early Roman period (63 B.C.E.-68 
C.E.). Indeed, some material from the Qumran caves is even earlier. 
This dating is supported by archaeological evidence from the 
Qumran settlement adjacent to the caves where the scrolls were 
found, by carbon-14 tests of the cloth in which the scrolls were 
wrapped in ancient times, by more recent carbon-14 tests on the 

scrolls themselves, by palaeographic evidence (the shape and stance 
of the letters) and, more generally, by the content of the scrolls thus 
far published. 

As a consensus on the dating of the scrolls developed, so did a 
consensus on the identity of the sect with whom the scrolls were to 
be associated — the Essenes. The Essenes were a group or sect of Jews 
who lived a strictly regulated life of piety and who shared property 
in common. While their center was located at the Dead Sea, the 
group was said to have had members spread throughout the cities of 
Palestine as well. The Essenes are described — unfortunately, only 
briefly — by the first-century Jewish historian Josephus; by his 
Alexandrian Jewish contemporary, the philosopher Philo; and by the 
first-century Roman historian Pliny. That the Qumran texts were 
associated with the Essenes was first suggested by E. L. Sukenik of 

the Elebrew University. This position has been most fully elaborated 
in the works of Frank M. Cross, Millar Burrows, and Andre Dupont- 

Sommer. The Essene hypothesis quickly became, and still remains, 
the reigning theory. 

The theory has a certain surface attractiveness. Josephus, Philo, and 
Pliny all describe Essenes at the shore of the Dead Sea, living in a 
manner not inconsistent with what the remains at the Qumran 
settlement seemed to reveal. (The excavations were conducted in the 
mid-1950s. Unfortunately, the director of the excavation, Roland de 
Vaux of the Ecole Biblique, never succeeded in publishing a final 
excavation report; only preliminary reports and a survey volume 

appeared. De Vaux died in 1971.) Furthermore, in many ways, what 
was known about the Essenes paralleled what was found, or seemed 
to be implied, in the Qumran texts: initiation rites, organizational 
patterns, a special calendar. The Essenes were therefore assumed to 
be the authors of virtually all of the scrolls, except the biblical texts 
and copies of some previously known apocrypha such as Jubilees. 

The Essene theory also had another dimension. Many doctrines of the 


Essenes, then taken to be synonymous with the Qumran sect, had 
parallels in early Christianity. The Essenes thus became a kind of 
precursor to Christianity, perhaps even a harbinger. 

Methodologically, the identification of the Essenes with the Qumran 
sect was often supported with a circular argument: If the sectarian 
materials in the Dead Sea texts could be identified with the Essenes, 
then all information in the Greek sources (Philo, Josephus, and 
Pliny) could be read into and harmonized with the evidence of the 
scrolls. And if the scrolls were Essene, then they could in turn be used 
to interpret the material in Philo, Josephus, and Pliny. A similar 
circularity was used to connect the scrolls with New Testament texts. 
Material from the New Testament regarding the early Church was 
read back into the scrolls and vice versa. This approach, the 
dominant hypothesis for some forty years, yielded the “monks,” 
“monastery,” “bishop,” “celibacy,” and numerous other 
terminological exaggerations used to describe Qumran texts, behind 
which lay a distinct set of preconceptions. For the most part, the 
fallacy of these arguments somehow escaped scholarly scrutiny. 

Beginning in 1985 with a conference held at New York University/ 
and continuing to the present, contradictions of the “official” Essene 
hypothesis were voiced as the field of learning advanced. Gradually a 
new nonconsensus began to emerge. It calls for postponing definite 
conclusions on the identity of the sect until the publication of the 
entire corpus. Further, it strongly challenges the right of the few 
scholars who had exclusive access to the still-unpublished material 
to require the adherence of others to their theories. Indeed, it is now 
understood that the term Essene may have designated a variety of 
sectarian groups that had certain common characteristics. 

Accordingly, most scholars now refer to the “Qumran sect,” no longer 
assuming that it is the Essenes. And the character of the “ancient 
library” is being reevaluated. 

The collection of Qumran texts consists of biblical manuscripts, the 
sect’s special texts (generally written according to the linguistic 
peculiarities of the sect), plus a whole variety of other texts collected 
by the people who lived at Qumran. The relationship of these other 
texts to the sect is unclear. Many texts were apparently brought to 
Qumran from elsewhere and held because they had some affinities 
with the beliefs of the sectarians. These texts may have emerged 


from earlier, somewhat different sectarian circles, or perhaps they 
came from contemporary groups close in their ideology to the 
Qumran sect. These texts cannot be regarded as representing the 
Qumran sect itself because they do not include its characteristic 
themes, polemics, and terminology, nor are they written in the 
distinctive language and style of the works of the sect. 

Very recently several fragmentary texts were published from Masada 
(Herod’s wilderness fortress about thirty-five miles south of 
Qumran) which was occupied by rebels during the First Jewish 
Revolt against Rome. In addition, a manuscript of the Sabbath Songs 
(angelic liturgy), known in several manuscripts from Qumran, was 
found at Masada. Thus, the Jewish defenders of Masada possessed 
books of the same kind as those found in the Qumran collection, but 
that were not directly associated with the sect itself. In other words, 
many of the works found at Qumran were the common heritage of 
Second Temple Judaism and did not originate in, and were not 
confined to, Qumran sectarian circles. 

The sectarian documents of the Qumran sect, however, form the core 
of this varied collection. What was the sect, and what was its origin? 
An unpublished text known in scholarly circles as MMT (for Miqsat 
Ma‘aseh ha-Torah — literally, “Some Rulings Pertaining to the 
Torah” — abbreviated 4QMMT, 4Q referring to Cave 4 at Qumran) is 
likely to shed considerable new light on these questions. Also known 
as the Halakhic Letter, referring to the fact that it appears to be a 
letter and contains about twenty-two religious laws ( halakhot ), MMT 
is essentially a foundation document of the Qumran sect. Although it 
was discovered in 1952, its contents were made known only in 1984 

by the scholar assigned to publish it. The ancient author of MMT 
asserts that the sect broke away from the Jewish establishment in 
Jerusalem because of differences involving these religious laws. He 
asserts that the sect will return if their opponents, who are pictured 
as knowing that the sectarians were right all along, will recant. 

The scholars who are preparing a critical edition of MMT, John 
Strugnell and Elisha Qimron, were kind enough to make available to 
me this text and their commentary on it. I have compared the laws in 
MMT with passages in the rabbinic texts known as the Mishnah and 
the Talmud, which identify the legal views of the Pharisees and the 
Sadducees, two Jewish movements that flourished before the Roman 
destruction of the Temple. From this investigation I have been able to 


show that the origins of the Qumran sect are Sadducean. The Jewish 
sect of the Sadducees, best known as the opponents of the Pharisees, 
broke away from their fellow Jews following the Maccabean revolt 
(168-164 B.C.E.), in which the Hasmonean Jewish rulers regained 
control of their land and their Temple from the Seleucid Syrian 
overlord Antiochus IV. The Hasmoneans took control of the Temple, 
making common cause with the Pharisees. This situation lasted until 
the Herodian period, which began with the assumption of power by 
Herod the Great in 37 B.C.E. Some of the Sadducees bent their 
principles and adjusted to the new situation. Others did not. For 
those who were unwilling to adjust to the new reality or to 
compromise their deeply held legal and exegetical principles, this 
situation proved intolerable. Although quite technical, the religious 
laws of the two groups differed very considerably. It is in this context 
that we must understand MMT. 

MMT, which dates to the Hasmonean period, is a letter sent by those 
unwilling to accept the legal rulings enunciated by the Hasmonean 
high priests. In its legal sections, MMT argues with those 
compromising Sadducees, setting forth, on the one hand, what the 
correct law is and, on the other hand, what the law enunciated by the 
Hasmoneans is. At the end of the letter, the author addresses the 
Hasmonean ruler himself, and attempts to sway him to MMT’s views 
by warning him that God blesses only those rulers who follow His 
1 2 


MMT revolutionizes the question of Qumran origins and requires us 
to reconsider the entire Essene hypothesis. It shows beyond question 
that either the sect was not Essene, but was Sadducean, or that the 
Essene movement must be totally redefined as having emerged out of 
Sadducean beginnings. Such a possibility is in agreement with the 
basic conclusions of Schechter, reached only on the basis of the 
Damascus Document before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. 
Schechter entitled this text a “Zadokite Work” and outlined its 
Sadducean connections. 

The most likely scenario, based on the entire collection of Qumran 
documents published so far, but especially on the as-yet-unpublished 
MMT, is that a process of sectarianism and separatist mentality grew 
throughout the Hasmonean period and blossomed in the Herodian 
period. As a result, a group of originally Sadducean priests, under the 
leadership of the Teacher of Righteousness (who, in my view, came 


to lead the sect only after MMT was written), developed into the 
group that left us the sectarian texts found at Qumran. 

As more and more scrolls are published, our understanding of the 
nature of the collection widens. It is now becoming increasingly clear 
that the scrolls are the primary source for the study of Judaism in all 
its varieties in the last centuries before the Common Era. In short, 
this corpus does not simply give us an entry into the sect that 
inhabited the nearby settlement, but also has an enormous amount to 
tell us about the widely varying Judaisms of the Hasmonean and 
Herodian periods. In assessing the importance of the collection, we 
must remember that almost no other primary Hebrew or Aramaic 
sources exist for the reconstruction of Judaism during these periods. 
Thus these documents are providing a critical background for the 
study of the later emergence both of rabbinic Judaism and of the 
early Christian Church. 

Scholars used to think that the library was entirely the product of the 
inhabitants of Qumran. Instead, it can now be stated, this hoard of 
manuscripts includes material representing a variety of Jewish 
groups as well as polemics against other Jewish groups. As a result of 
this new understanding, much more can be done with the scrolls. 

Specifically, it was believed, until very recently, that we had no 
contemporary sources for the Pharisees during the Hasmonean 
period. Because the Pharisees bequeathed their approach to the 
rabbinic Judaism that emerged after the Roman destruction of 
Jerusalem, this lack of sources was particularly keenly felt. The 
situation was much the same with the Sadducees. Nor could we 
make much sense of the various apocalyptic groups whose existence 
scholars could only assume. 

In the last few years, however, we have come to realize that this 
evaluation is incorrect. The scrolls inform us not only about the 
unusual sect that inhabited the ruins of Qumran, but also about the 
other groups as well. 

Let us begin with the Pharisees. This elusive group of lay teachers 
and expounders of the Torah — previously known only from later 
accounts in Josephus, the largely polemical treatment in the New 
Testament, and the scattered references in talmudic literature — is 
now coming to life before our eyes. So far as we can tell from the 
published material, the scrolls include material on the Pharisees only 


in polemical context, but this can still tell us a great deal. And who 
knows what the unpublished material will reveal? 

The polemics against the Pharisees are of two kinds. In the better- 
known, sectarian texts, the Pharisees are called by various code 

words, such as “Ephraim.” 1 In these texts, the Pharisees are said to 

be the “builders of the wall,” that is, they built fences around the 
Torah by legislating additional regulations designed to ensure its 
observance. These fences were no more acceptable to the Qumran 
sect than the halakhot (laws) of the Pharisees. The sect, using a play 
on words, derisively called the Pharisees doreshe halaqot, best 

translated as “those who expound false laws.” 1 The same text refers 
to the talmud (literally “study”) of “Ephraim” as falsehood, no doubt 
a reference to the Pharisaic method of deriving new, extended laws 
from expressions of Scripture. In these texts from Qumran we see 
that Josephus’ description of the Pharisees and their traditions — 
which were the precursor of the concept of oral rabbinic law that 
became embodied in the Talmud — were already in place in the 
Hasmonean period. 

A second type of anti-Pharisaic polemic is reflected in MMT. In 
MMT, the author castigates his opponents and then expresses his 
own view, specifying the legal violation in the opponents’ views. In a 
number of cases, the laws the author(s) of MMT opposes are the 
same laws that later rabbinic sources attribute to the Pharisees, and 
the laws the author(s) of MMT espouse match those of the Sadducees 
as reflected in later rabbinic texts. Accordingly, we now have good 
reason to believe that in MMT we have halakhot, as they were 
already called in the Hasmonean period, maintained by the Pharisees. 

This letter requires that the view of prominent scholars — most 

notably Jacob Neusner ° — who doubted the reliability of the rabbis 
regarding the Pharisees must be reevaluated. The talmudic materials 
are far more accurate than previously thought. This is true in at least 
two respects. 

First, the Pharisaic view did indeed predominate during much of the 
Hasmonean period. In short, this is not a later talmudic anachronistic 
invention. Second, the terminology, and even some of the very laws 
as recorded in rabbinic sources (some in the name of the Pharisees, 
and others attributed to anonymous first-century sages), were 


actually used and espoused by the Pharisees. In other words — and 
this is extremely important — rabbinic Judaism as embodied in the 
Talmud is not a postdestruction invention, as some scholars had 
maintained; on the contrary, the roots of rabbinic Judaism reach 
back at least to the Hasmonean period. 

The Qumran texts also teach us a great deal about the Sadducees. In 

the Pesher Nahum they are termed “Menasseh,” the opponents of 
“Ephraim” (the code word for the Pharisees). Here the Sadducees are 
described as aristocratic members of the ruling class. This fits the 
period at the end of Hasmonean rule, just before the Roman conquest 
of Palestine in 63 B.C.E., when the Pharisees had fallen out with the 
Hasmoneans. All this accords perfectly with the description of the 
Sadducees by Josephus. As with the Pharisees, so with the 
Sadducees: Josephus’ description is generally accurate. Moreover, as 
previously noted, the twenty-two examples of Sadducean laws in 
MMT frequently match views attributed to the Sadducees in talmudic 

A number of Sadducean laws found in MMT also have parallels in the 

Temple Scroll. In some cases the Temple Scroll provides a scriptural 
basis when MMT cites only the law. Although the final text of the 
Temple Scroll was edited in the Hasmonean period, some of its 
sources were apparently earlier — before the emergence of the 
Qumran sect, in a time when these teachings were indeed Sadducean. 
The author/editor of the final text of the complete Temple Scroll, 
whether a member of the Qumran sect or of some related or similar 
group, used these Sadducean sources. In recovering the sources of 
the Temple Scroll, we get a clearer and clearer picture of the views of 
the Sadducees. We are finally beginning to understand their brand of 
literalism — barely suggested by the later references in ancient 
literature that had previously been known. In short, the Sadducees 
required that all laws be based on Scripture: They rejected laws 
unrelated to the Bible. 

The Qumran scrolls also tell us about various apocalyptic groups 
whose teachings are so important for our understanding of the later 
development of aspects of Jewish mysticism as well as Christian 
apocalypticism. For these apocalyptic groups, we unfortunately lack 
all social and historical context — at least so far; but who knows what 
we may find in still-unpublished Qumran texts? Texts like the book 
of Noah, as well as the books of Daniel and Enoch, have a common 


structure: Heavenly secrets of the present and of the end of days are 
revealed to the hero. These texts often involve heavenly ascents and 
other journeys of this kind frequently found in later Jewish 
mysticism. Their notions of immediate messianic fulfillment must 
have greatly influenced Christian messianism. This influence can also 
be seen in the messianic pressures for Jewish resistance against 
Roman rule that were important factors in fueling the two Jewish 
revolts, the First Revolt of 66-70 C.E. and the Second Revolt, the so- 
called Bar-Kokhba Revolt, of 132-135 C.E., both of which had 
messianic overtones. 

At this point, I should perhaps comment briefly on the Dead Sea 
Scroll hypothesis recently put forward by Professor Norman Golb of 
the University of Chicago. According to him the Qumran scrolls are 
the library of the Jerusalem Temple, brought from Jerusalem and 
hidden at Qumran during the First Jewish Revolt against Rome. The 
Qumran documents, Golb argues, therefore represent a balanced 
picture of the Judaism of the Second Temple period. Indeed he goes 
so far as to claim that there was no Qumran sect; the settlement at 
Qumran was, he says, a military fortress. In his view, the ruins of 

Qumran have no relation to the scrolls found in the adjacent caves. 

Despite the aggressive way in which he has argued for this theory, 
he has never supported it by a study of, or citations to, the texts 
themselves. Indeed, he ignores the evidence we have cited from MMT 
(although, in fairness, at best only a pirated copy of the unpublished 
texts of MMT has been available to him). Equally important, he has 
also ignored the clear sectarian emphasis of the collection as a whole 
insofar as it has been published. 

Moreover, the settlement at Qumran was constructed in much too 
unsturdy a manner to be a fortress. Its water supply was completely 
open and unprotected, contrary to what we would expect of a 
fortress. Its location was exposed, with its back and one flank 
abutting a cliff from which it could be attacked and overwhelmed. 
The wall that surrounded at least part of the settlement was not the 
wall of a fortress, but a mere enclosure wall, barely thicker than the 
walls of the buildings inside. Golb relies on the fact that a building at 
the site was identified by the excavator as a tower. The only reason 
this building appears to be a tower is because by coincidence it is the 
only building preserved to the height of its second story. Golb also 
calls our attention to the fact that graves of women and children, as 


well as of men, have been found at the site. He correctly argues that 
this disproves the claim that the site was the monastery of celibate 
monks. But these graves of women and children also fly in the face of 
his argument that Qumran was a fortress. In sum, Golb’s hypothesis 
is not valid. It is put forward despite incontrovertible facts, not in an 
effort to explain doubtful matters on the basis of known 


Let us turn now to what the Qumran texts can teach us about early 
Christianity. It is clear that many expressions, motifs, and concepts 
found in early Christianity have their background in sectarian 
Judaism of the Second Temple period, as reflected in the Qumran 
texts. This has long been observed. I also agree that the use of 
postdestruction rabbinic literature, which once served as the 
primary source for establishing and interpreting the background of 
Christian ideas, turns out to be misguided in light of our current 
knowledge of the varied character of Judaism in the Greco-Roman 
period. Such ideas as the dualism of light and darkness, the 
presentation of the figure of the messiah as combining a variety of 
leadership roles known from earlier Hebrew sources, the immediate 
messianism — all these are ideas we can and do trace in the Qumran 

Yet the quest for parallels to, and antecedents of, Christian doctrines 
and ideas should remain secondary. The better way to use the 
Qumran texts for understanding early Christianity is to understand 
them as illuminating the full spectrum of Jewish groups in the 
Hellenistic period in Palestine. When we compensate for the 
sectarian emphasis of the collection as a whole, it turns out that the 
contribution the Qumran texts can make to the prehistory of 

Christianity is even greater. 

Second Temple Judaism can now be seen as a transition period in 
which the sectarianism and apocalypticism of the period gradually 
gave way to rabbinic Judaism, on the one hand, and Christianity, on 
the other. Indeed, it is now clear that the Second Temple period was 
a kind of sorting out process. 

Until the Maccabean revolt (168-164 B.C.E.), the Jewish 

communities in Palestine and in the Diaspora fiercely debated the 
extent to which they would partake of and absorb the Hellenistic 
culture all around them. The successful Maccabean revolt resolved 


this issue: Extreme Hellenism was overwhelmingly rejected in 
Palestinian Judaism. While Judaism would therefore not become 
simply one of the Hellenistic cults, the new cultural environment 
caused by the contact with Hellenism led nonetheless to a 
reevaluation of many issues in Judaism. The variety of responses that 
developed brought about the splitting of the Jewish community into 
various groups, or perhaps, in some cases, sects, each seeking to 
dominate the religious scene. The writings of some of these groups 
and considerable information about others can be gleaned, as we have 
seen, from the Dead Sea Scrolls. 

The competing groups vied with one another throughout the 
Hasmonean period. This debate finally was resolved only in the 
aftermath of the Bar-Kokhba Revolt (135 C.E.). Apocalyptic 
messianic tendencies, now much better understood from the 
sectarian texts authored by the Qumran group (and from some of the 
other texts preserved there as well), became more and more 
pronounced among some groups. This led eventually to the two 
Jewish revolts against Rome. These same trends led a small group of 
Jews to conclude that their leader, Jesus of Nazareth, was indeed the 
“son of man,” interpreted by some as a messianic designation. This 
term is well known from Daniel and also from Enochic writings 
preserved at Qumran. 

Postdestruction rabbinic Judaism based itself, in the main, on 
Pharisaism, although it also included some aspects of the traditions 
of the sectarian and apocalyptic groups. Christianity, on the other 
hand, primarily inherited the immediate apocalypticism of these 
groups. Christianity also adopted, or adapted, certain dualistic 
tendencies and a wide variety of motifs found in the doctrines of 
these groups. In other words, Christianity is to a great extent the 
continuation of trends within Second Temple Judaism that were 
rejected by the emerging Pharisaic-rabbinic mainstream. 

Finally, let us look at the Qumran texts for the light they can shed on 
the history of the biblical texts. Here again, more recent study 
requires the modification of earlier held views. In the early years of 
Qumran studies, it was thought that the biblical texts found in the 
caves — at least fragments of every book of the Hebrew Bible except 
Esther were found — would somehow illuminate the “original” text 
that emerged from ancient Israel. This entire notion has been proven 
wrong. We now know that the transmission of the text in the 
postbiblical period resulted in many textual variants. These variants 


resulted not only from the copying process itself, but also from 
interpretation of the text and linguistic updating, phenomena that 


could not have been understood before the discovery of the scrolls. 

Very early in the study of the biblical manuscripts from Qumran, a 

theory was put forward, first by William F. Albright and then more 

fully by Frank M. Cross, that supposedly identified three text 
types. One of these text types stood behind the Masoretic text, the 
traditional Jewish Hebrew text adopted by rabbinic Judaism as 
authoritative; another text type stood behind the Samaritan 
Pentateuch (before the introduction of certain Samaritan polemical 
changes); a third text type stood behind the text preserved only in 
the Greek translation known as the Septuagint. These three textual 
families were shown to have coexisted at Qumran, and it was widely 
assumed that they were represented in roughly equivalent numbers 
of texts, although this assumption was in fact based only on a limited 

Recent studies require a modification of this approach. In fact, most 
of the biblical manuscripts at Qumran indicate that the proto- 
Masoretic text type in fact predominated: Thus, the process of 
standardization, whereby this text became authoritative in rabbinic 
Judaism, may have taken place much earlier than was previously 
presumed. In short, the proto-Masoretic tradition was in ascendence 
by the Hasmonean period. It is likely that this text type was the most 
common because it was the most ancient. The process of 
standardization was in reality one of eliminating variant texts. This, 
indeed, is the picture presented in rabbinic literature. 

Another modification of Cross’s analysis is also required. Most 
biblical texts at Qumran represent, to some extent, mixtures of text 
types. The biblical manuscripts commonly share readings with other 
texts to such an extent that few can be understood as representative 

purely of a single text type. Indeed, the very notion of text types to 
a certain extent projects backward in time the textual “witnesses” 
that have survived in later copies — that is, the Masoretic Hebrew 
text, the Samaritan Pentateuch, and the Greek Septuagint — which 
were known to us before the Qumran finds. Had we not had the 
Septuagint and the Samaritan Bibles, we would never have concluded 
from the Qumran material itself that three text families existed. A 
more accurate picture would describe trends reflected in varying 


degrees in different biblical texts from Qumran. This would explain 
much better the predominance of the many mixed texts of the 
Hebrew Bible found at Qumran. 

The claim that New Testament manuscripts were found at Qumran 
can be dealt with in a sentence. None was found — for a very good 
reason: New Testament texts are later than the Qumran texts. 

What we have described here as to the Qumran collection and its 
implications is based on published documents as well as on a number 
of unpublished materials that I have been able to inspect — including 
MMT, which the editors allowed me to study. Further, I have had the 
use of the concordance to the full lot, including the unpublished 
texts. There is much more to come, as some four hundred 
documents, most very fragmentary — about half the documents from 
the Qumran caves — are yet to be published. At the present time, 
scholars are updating the old catalogues of the Qumran manuscripts, 
and a full catalogue is expected to be available soon. When the entire 
corpus is finally published, students of the varieties of Second 
Temple Judaism and their relevance to rabbinic Judaism and early 
Christianity will have a veritable feast. 

* See Chapter 5. 

tThe word genizah in Hebrew refers to a storage area where holy books 
and other Hebrew writings are “hidden away” (gnz) after they are no 
longer usable, since discarding them otherwise would be an act of 

*B.C.E. (Before the Common Era) and C.E. (Common Era) are the 
alternate designations corresponding to B.C. and A.D. 

*See Chapter 7. 

* See Chapter 7. 

*For Cross’s views, see Chapter 11. 





In this chapter a distinguished younger scholar, James VanderKam 
of the University of Notre Dame, takes strong issue with Lawrence 
Schiffman’s views expressed in the preceding chapter. In short, 
VanderKam believes that the case that the Qumran sectarians 
were Essenes is well-nigh irrefutable. He makes his argument by 
closely examining the ancient Greek sources regarding the Essenes 
and comparing them not only with the archaeological evidence 
from Qumran but also with the beliefs reflected in the Dead Sea 
Scrolls. In addition, he compares the beliefs reflected in the Dead 
Sea Scrolls with the beliefs of the Pharisees and Sadducees. He 
concludes that the views reflected in the scrolls are far closer to 
the Essenes than to any other known Jewish group at the time. 

In the course of his discussion, VanderKam calls our attention to 
the difficulty of deciding which of the Qumran documents are in 
fact sectarian texts, a problem we will return to in Chapter 10. He 
also discusses the details of the immensely important, but still- 
unpublished, Qumran document known asMMT. In addition, we 
get an introduction to the Temple Scroll, which will be a major 
focus of later chapters. 



Adjacent to the eleven caves on the northwestern shore of the Dead 
Sea where the famous Dead Sea Scrolls were found are the remains of 
an ancient settlement overlooking the Wadi Qumran. It is almost 
certain that the people who lived in this settlement placed the scrolls 
in the nearby caves. In two of the caves — Cave 4 and Cave 11 — 
archaeologists found regularly spaced holes in the walls where 
supports for shelves were once anchored. Before the shelves 
collapsed or were destroyed, banks of scrolls were no doubt neatly 
stacked on the shelves. 

But who were the people who lived in this settlement and collected 
these scrolls? 

Throughout the history of research on the Dead Sea Scrolls, the 
dominant position has been that the people who inhabited this 
settlement were part of a Jewish sect known as the Essenes. True, 
some scholars questioned this view and preferred to identify the 
group as Pharisaic, Sadducean, or even Christian, but their views 
have gained only very modest support. 

In the last year, however, a distinguished scholar from New York 
University, Lawrence H. Schiffman, has argued that certain 
important, more recently available Qumran (that is, Dead Sea Scroll) 
texts exhibit traits of the Sadducees. If so, we must raise anew the 
question of who the people were who lived at Qumran. 

Schiffman relies primarily on a still-unpublished document known as 

4QMMT, or MMT for short, and, to a lesser extent, on the famous 
Temple Scroll. 

In the previous chapter, Schiffman sets out his position at some 

length. He concludes that “MMT revolutionizes the question of 
Qumran origins and requires us to consider the entire Essene 
hypothesis. It shows beyond question that either the sect was not 
Essene, but was Sadducean, or that the Essene movement must be 
totally redefined as having emerged out of Sadducean beginnings.” 

I see no justification for Schiffman’s first alternative (“the sect was 
not Essene, but Sadducean”). His second alternative (“the Essene 
movement must be totally redefined as having emerged out of 
Sadducean beginnings”) is, as he has formulated it, misleading, 
although it ultimately points in the right direction. 


From a variety of texts, such as the writings of the first-century A.D. 

historian Josephus, the New Testament, and the Mishnah, we learn 
that the two leading Jewish groups during the last two centuries B.C. 
and the first century A.D. were the Sadducees and the Pharisees. But 
no Sadducean or Pharisaic documents have survived, unless, for the 

Sadducees, Schiffman is correct about works such as MMT. 
Accordingly, we learn about the Sadducees and Pharisees only 
through the reports of others — reports that are sometimes hostile 
(the New Testament), sometimes later (the Mishnah and the 
Talmud), and always biased. 

The situation with respect to the Essenes — the third of the three 
sects or philosophies that Josephus mentions — is even more 
problematic. There are fewer ancient references to the Essenes than 
there are to the Pharisees and Sadducees. The Essenes are mentioned 
by Josephus first in his account of Jewish history during the high 

priesthood of Jonathan the Maccabee (152-142 B.C.). Apparently 
these three groups — the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes — 
operated continuously from at least the mid-second century B.C. until 
the end of the First Jewish Revolt against Rome (66-70 A.D.). 

Although the Essenes are mentioned less frequendy than the 
Pharisees and Sadducees, the Essenes may today have won an 
advantage over their more famous rivals, since, according to most 
scholars, the authors and copyists of the Dead Sea Scrolls were 
Essenes. If they were in fact Essenes, we can now learn their views 
from their own pens, not merely through the reports and distortions 
of others. Oddly enough, the little-known Essenes may now have 
emerged into a brighter public light than their more famous 

The identification of the Dead Sea Scroll community as Essene has 
been based primarily on two kinds of data: (1) evidence from the 
Roman geographer Pliny the Elder, and (2) the contents of the scrolls 
themselves as compared with Josephus’ and others’ descriptions of 
Essene beliefs and practices. (The scrolls themselves, however, do not 
contain the word Essene .) 

Pliny the Elder (23-79 A.D.) almost certainly mentions the Qumran 
group, referring to them as Essenes. In his famous Natural History he 
describes Judea and the Dead Sea: 


On the west side of the Dead Sea, but out of range of the exhalations of the 
coast, is the solitary tribe of the Essenes, which is remarkable beyond all 
the other tribes in the whole world, as it has no women and has renounced 
all sexual desire, has no money, and has only palm-trees for company. Day 
by day the throng of refugees is recruited to an equal number by numerous 
accessions of persons tired of life and driven thither by the waves of 
fortune to adopt their manners. Thus through thousands of ages (incredible 
to relate) a race into which no one is born lives on forever; so prolific for 
their advantage is other men’s weariness of life! 

Lying below the Essenes [literally: lying below these] was formerly the 
town of Engedi, second only to Jerusalem in the fertility of its land and in 

its groves of palm-trees, but now like Jerusalem a heap of ashes. [I have 
italicized two items to be discussed below.] 

The only place on the west side of the Dead Sea north of Ein Gedi 
where archaeological remains of a communal center were found is 
Qumran, as scholars have been quick to note. And precisely in that 
location, says Pliny, were to be found those peculiar Essenes about 
whose manner of life he seems so well informed. 

Small objections have been raised to the inference that Pliny is 
talking about the inhabitants of the settlement at Qumran. Some have 
suggested that “lying below these” indicates that Pliny located the 
Essenes on the hills overlooking Ein Gedi. But there was no 
settlement at that location. Pliny does make a few mistakes — or the 
extant witnesses to the text of his book do. (They could be copyists’ 
mistakes.) The first mention of Jerusalem (italicized above), which 
was even more fertile than Ein Gedi, should be Jericho; Pliny also 
seems exceedingly optimistic about the antiquity of the Essenes, 
suggesting that the “tribe” has endured through “thousands of ages.” 
These, however, are only minor matters; they have, quite rightly, 
played little part in the discussion. 

More importantly, some scholars have concluded that, since Pliny 
refers to the Essenes in the present tense and since his book, 
dedicated to Titus before he became emperor, was written in about 
77 A.D., after the Qumran community had been destroyed in 68 

A.D., he can hardly have been describing Qumran and its residents. 
This potentially damaging objection is hardly fatal, however. Pliny 
regularly describes sites in the present tense. Moreover, in this 
section of his book it is quite likely that he is basing his description 
on an earlier source. Pliny himself acknowledged his heavy 
indebtedness to his sources; he names some one hundred of them for 


Natural History. For Book 5 alone, he lists fifty-nine authorities from 
whom he extracted information. H. Rackham has written about 
Pliny’s own meager contributions to his book: “[T]hey form only a 
small fraction of the work, which is in the main a second-hand 

compilation from the works of others . " L Accordingly, the date when 
Pliny finished his book does not necessarily, or even probably, 
specify the time when his description of the Essenes, which he 
probably draws from another author, was written. 

When all is said and done, the result is a pleasant surprise: An ancient 
Roman author, who would have had no reason to fabricate this 
report, found a community of Essenes living alone on the 
northwestern shore of the Dead Sea — precisely where Qumran is. 
And he apparently took the trouble to discover that this group did 
not marry, had no private property, and regularly welcomed new 

The second fundamental argument for the claim that the residents of 
Qumran were Essenes is that the contents of the specifically sectarian 
texts among the scrolls are in remarkably close agreement with what 
the ancient writers — Pliny, Philo, and especially Josephus — tell us 
about Essene beliefs and practices. What the sectarian texts have to 
say coincides much more closely with Essene thought and action 
than with what the sources say about the Pharisaic and Sadducean 

The most important Qumran text in these comparisons is the Manual 

of Discipline — one of the first of the scrolls to be published. The 
Manual of Discipline (also known as the Community Rule or Serekh 
Hay-Yahad, IQS) describes, among other topics, some fundamental 
beliefs of the Qumran group, the initiation process and ceremonies 
for new members, and the rules that governed their daily life and 

Consider, for example, the striking harmony in the doctrine of fate or 
predeterminism as reflected first in Josephus and then in the Manual 
of Discipline. Josephus tells us that the three Jewish parties held 
differing opinions on this matter: 

As for the Pharisees, they say that certain events are the work of 
Fate, but not all; as to other events, it depends upon ourselves 
whether they shall take place or not. The sect of the Essenes, however, 


declares that Fate is mistress of all things, and that nothing befalls men 
unless it be in accordance with her decree. But the Sadducees do away 
with Fate, holding that there is no such thing and that human actions 
are not achieved in accordance with her decree, but that all things lie 
within our own power, so that we ourselves are responsible for our 
well-being, while we suffer misfortune through our own 

thoughtlessness.” [Italics added.] 

Compare this with the Manual of Discipline, which articulates a 
strongly predestinarian theology of world history and human 

From the God of Knowledge comes all that is and shall be. Before ever 
they existed He established their whole design, and when, as ordained for 
them, they come into being, it is in accord with His glorious design that 

they accomplish their task without change.' 

And again: 

The Angel of Darkness leads all the children of righteousness astray, and 
until his end, all their sin, iniquities, wickedness, and all their unlawful 
deeds are caused by his dominion in accordance with the mysteries of 

God. 8 

Sentiments like this place the Qumran sectarians furthest from the 
Sadducean position (as described by Josephus), somewhat nearer the 
Pharisaic, and clearly closest to the Essenes. To be more precise, the 
views contained in the Manual of Discipline are identical with Essene 
thinking as described by Josephus. From theoretical points like this 
to other more mundane matters, the series of close resemblances 
continues. Josephus tells us of the Essenes’ common ownership of 

Riches they despise, and their community of goods is truly admirable; you 
will not find one among them distinguished by greater opulence than 
another. They have a law that new members on admission to the sect shall 
confiscate their property to the order, with the result that you will 
nowhere see either abject poverty or inordinate wealth; the individual’s 
possessions join the common stock and all, like brothers, enjoy a single 



Compare this with the Manual of Discipline: 


. . . when (the novice) has completed one year within the Community, the 
Congregation shall deliberate his case with regard to his understanding and 
observance of the Law. And if it be his destiny, according to the judgment 
of the Priests and the multitude of the men of their Covenant, to enter the 
company of the Community, his property and earnings shall be handed 
over to the Bursar of the Congregation who shall register it to his account 
and shall not spend it for the Congregation. [....] But when the second 
year has passed, he shall be examined, [...]; his property shall be 

merged ... (The dots indicate lacunae in the text.) 

True, there are some differences of detail — for example, in precisely 
how the years of the initiatory period are divided, but, in the end, 
the extent of agreement is astonishing. 

Or take something as trivial as the rule that when the group is 
assembled, no one may spit. Josephus wrote: “They are careful not to 

spit into the midst of the company or to the right.” The Manual of 
Discipline prescribes: “Whoever has spat in an Assembly of the 

Congregation shall do penance for thirty days.” 

Many more examples could be added, but the point is clear. In a 
recent analysis of the material in Josephus and in the sectarian 
scrolls, Todd Beall concluded that there are twenty-seven parallels 
between Josephus and the scrolls regarding the Essenes, twenty-one 
probable parallels, ten cases in which Josephus makes claims about 
the Essenes that have no known parallel among the scrolls, and six 

discrepancies between them. In two of these six discrepancies, the 
scrolls are not unanimous, but differ among themselves. And even the 
discrepancies can be explained. For example, on the issue of common 
ownership of property: Josephus (and Pliny) and the Manual of 
Discipline mention it; another sectarian document among the scrolls, 
the Damascus Document, however, talks about placing the earnings 
of “at least two days out of every month into the hands of the 

Guardian and Judges” for charitable distribution. This doesn’t 
sound like common ownership of property. However, the standard 
theory is that the Damascus Document gives the law for the Essenes 
living in towns and villages; the Manual of Discipline legislates for the 
branch of the Essene movement that lived at Qumran. Thus, different 
Essene groups seem to have had different rules about such matters. 

Identifying the residents of Qumran with the Essenes does, thus, 


have sturdy backing, and most have accepted it. 

Before turning to Schiffman’s challenge to this thesis, however, I do 
want to add a few notes. First, as the preceding discussion has hinted, 
one must initially establish which documents from the caves are 
specifically sectarian before making comparisons of these kinds. A 
text cannot be considered sectarian just because it was found in one 
of the eleven manuscript caves of Qumran. If that alone were 
sufficient, all the biblical manuscripts would have to be considered 
Essene and clearly they are not Essene in origin. Scholars have been 
surprisingly slow to address this question. The method for 
determining which of the documents are sectarian must begin with 
one or two documents that undoubtedly are sectarian — such as the 
Manual of Discipline, the biblical commentaries, and the Hymn Scroll 

— and then extrapolate from these to other texts. Although it is 
sometimes difficult to tell whether a text is a sectarian document — 
the Temple Scroll is an example — this problem need not detain us 
here because it is precisely the Manual of Discipline, an undoubted 
sectarian document, that displays these numerous and weighty 
agreements with Josephus’ account of the Essenes. This, accordingly, 
is reassuring support for the identification. 

Second, a cautionary note: We can compare the contents of Qumran 
documents only with what other ancient writers recorded about the 
parties in reports that have survived. Possibly, if they had recorded 
more about them or more of these descriptions had survived, 
additional agreements or discrepancies would surface. 

Third, it is mildly disturbing that there are some very noticeable 
traits in the scrolls that neither Josephus nor any other ancient 
cataloguer of Essene beliefs noted. For example, the peculiar 364-day 
solar calendar referred to in several Qumran texts is nowhere 
mentioned by ancient writers. The same is the case with the belief of 
the Qumran sectarians that two messiahs would appear. It may be 
thought that Josephus, for one, did not mention these matters in 
connection with the Essenes because he believed they would be of no 
interest to his Greco-Roman audience or because he did not 
reproduce material of this sort for any of the other Jewish parties; 
but one wonders whether his audience would have been any more 
interested in the Essenes’ avoidance of spitting during communal 
gatherings. In short, these are some puzzling omissions. 


Fourth, where differences exist between Josephus and the Qumran 
texts, it may be that Josephus merely reflects a later version of 
Essene beliefs that could have changed over time, or that Josephus is 
talking about another, non-Qumran wing of the Essene party with 
which he happened to be familiar. All Essenes surely did not agree on 
everything, nor did their views remain static over some two hundred 

In light of all the evidence adduced above, I think most scholars 
would agree with Frank Cross’s forceful statement: 

The scholar who would “exercise caution” in identifying the sect of 
Qumran with the Essenes places himself in an astonishing position: He 
must suggest seriously that two major parties formed communalistic 
religious communities in the same district of the desert of the Dead Sea and 
lived together in effect for two centuries, holding similar bizarre views, 
performing similar or rather identical lustrations, ritual meals, and 
ceremonies. He must suppose that one [the Essenes], carefully described 
by classical authors, disappeared without leaving building remains or even 
potsherds behind; the other [the inhabitants of Qumran], systematically 
ignored by the classical sources, left extensive ruins, and indeed a great 
library. I prefer to be reckless and flady identify the men of Qumran with 

their perennial houseguests, the Essenes . 1 

Cross’s lecture, from which the above quotation was taken, was first 
presented in 1966, and much has changed since then. For one thing, 
the Temple Scroll — the longest document from Qumran — has been 
published. Its heavily legal content has received intense scrutiny. 
Some regard it as an extremely important statement of sectarian law; 
others deny that it is sectarian — either Qumranian or Essene. A 
second text, although unpublished, is also very much part of the 
Essene-Sadducee discussion — MMT, which its editors bill as a letter, 

possibly from the Teacher of Righteousness himself, to the 

opponents of the group. In this letter (if that is what it is), the 
group distinguishes its views from its opponents’ views on some 
twenty-two laws. In the text of MMT, legal statements are listed with 
phrases such as “you say” and “but we think,” so we know what the 
writer’s view of the law is and what the opponents’ view is. In one 
copy of this intriguing text — parts of at least seven copies have 
survived — the “epistolary” part is preceded by a complete annual 
calendar of 364 days that dates the various festivals within the year. 
The document is clearly sectarian. 


In Schiffman’s view, MMT is a Sadducean document — that is, the 
legal views that the text defends significandy overlap with positions 
that later rabbinic literature attributes to the Sadducees. If he is 
correct and if MMT is a sectarian text that dates from near the 
beginning of the Qumran writings, it would imply that the sect at its 
inception was Sadducean or at least exhibited heavy Sadducean 

influence on its legal positions. 

I consider this view implausible. 

A critical element in Schiffman’s case is a series of disagreements 
between the Pharisees and Sadducees recorded in the Mishnah 
( Yadayim 4.6-7), where four disputed points are raised. Schiffman 
finds echoes of these four disputed points in MMT. In each case, the 
Sadducean position, as recorded in the Mishnah, is consistently 
defended in MMT, while the Pharisees’ view is attributed to MMT’s 
opponents. So says Schiffman. 

In an appendix to this chapter, I examine these four legal points and 
compare the Mishnah text with MMT in an effort to determine 
whether in fact the writer of MMT does agree, in each case, with the 
position of the Sadducees as recorded in the Mishnah. My conclusion 
is that the writer of MMT probably agrees with the Sadducean 
position, as presented in the Mishnah, in three of the four cases. 
Moreover, there are other instances in which the Sadducean and 
Qumran positions coincide. 

But what is one to make of this evidence? I doubt very much that the 
far-ranging conclusions Schiffman has drawn actually follow from 
this meager evidence. Even if the Sadducean views given in the 
Mishnah and the laws of MMT agreed in twice as many instances, it 
would be interesting but perhaps not terribly significant. There may 
well have been many areas in which the Sadducees and the Essenes 
agreed with one another; to be a Sadducee or an Essene presumably 
did not mean that they disagreed about everything. Especially in the 
case of these two groups, one would expect some shared views 
because both had strong priestly roots. The Qumran group was 
founded and led by priests, the sons of Zadok; the very name 
Sadducees seems to be derived from this same Zadok, and influential 
priests are known to have been Sadducees. 

Moreover, it is no simple matter to decide how much credence to 


give to the record of Sadducean-Pharisaic disputes in the Mishnah. 
The Mishnah may, but may not, preserve a precise recollection of 
differences between the two groups; the Mishnah was written long 
after the two parties had ceased to exist (about 200 A.D.). Moreover, 
the Mishnah regularly sides with the Pharisees and thus sees the 
disputes from their angle. Indeed, Emil Schiirer thought that “[t]he 
attacks of the Sadducees on the Pharisees mentioned in [this 

Mishnah passage] can only have been intended as mockery.” 1 

Schiffman bases a major conclusion on a few agreements in religious 
laws (halakhah): Because the views in MMT and those attributed 
much later to the Sadducees correspond for a few individual laws, 
Schiffman concludes that the Qumran group was Sadducean or had 
strong Sadducean influences at its inception. In order to reach this 
conclusion he has to ignore the contemporary testimony of Pliny. 
Schiffman also has to ignore the numerous and fundamental 
agreements between Josephus’ description of Essene thought and 
practice, on the one hand, and the contents of the sectarian 
documents from Qumran, on the other. 

Equally important, Schiffman ignores the fact that the sectarian texts 
from Qumran teach such thoroughly non-Sadducean doctrines as the 

existence of multitudes of angels and the all-controlling power of 
fate. Schiffman tells us nothing about how the Sadducees are 
supposed to have developed such teachings — certainly strange ones 
for Sadducees. The fact that an early sectarian document such as the 
Manual of Discipline enunciates markedly Essene, non-Sadducean 
positions makes it most improbable that the Qumran residents 
emerged from Sadducean origins. If they did, they somehow managed 
to reverse themselves on fundamental theological tenets within a few 
years — from nonpredestinarians to all-out determinists, to name just 
one example. Such a scenario is thoroughly implausible. The 
evidence from people like Josephus and Pliny (or his source), who 
had actually witnessed the ways and theology of the Essenes, and the 
data from central Qumran texts can hardly be outweighed by the few 
legal details on which Schiffman relies — individual laws that may 
well be just a few of many points on which Sadducees and Essenes 
agreed (they agreed with Pharisees on others). 

The sparse data that Schiffman (and Joseph Baumgarten before him) 
has uncovered merely evidence something that was already known: 
Both the Essenes (including those who lived at Qumran) and the 


Sadducees had similar origins in the priestly class of Judea, and both 
(in their strict view of the Law) seemed to have opposed the 
Pharisaic amelioration of some laws and penalties. That Essenes and 
Sadducees agreed on some points is to be expected; that they 
disagreed fundamentally on others is why they were identified as 
different groups. One would have to posit a very strange history for 
the Qumran group to hold that they began as Sadducees and swiftly 
evolved into people who held numerous diametrically opposed 
views. Since we do not know which of the two groups came first — 
Essenes or Sadducees — it is preferable not to speak of strong 
Sadducean influences on the origins of the Qumran group. What can 
be said on the basis of the evidence is that both groups shared deep 
priestly roots but grew from them in rather different ways. 

*The number 4 indicates that it was found in the fourth cave, Q refers to 
Qumran, and the letters MMT are an abbreviation for the Hebrew 
words Miqsat Ma‘aseh ha-Torah (Some of the works of the Torah), 
which the editors, John Strugnell and Elisha Qimron, have suggested 
as a tide for the work. These words appear near the end of the text. 




In arguing that the Qumran sectarians were Sadducees, at least in 
their origins, Lawrence Schiffman relies on a comparison of four 
laws discussed both in a Qumran sectarian document known as MMT 
and in a rabbinic text from about 200 A.D. called the Mishnah. The 
passage in the Mishnah ( Yadayim 4.6-7) records a dispute between 
the Pharisees and the Sadducees regarding the law on four rather 
obscure points. According to Schiffman, MMT defends the same 
views that are ascribed to the Sadducees in the Mishnah. 

The passage from the Mishnah reads as follows: 

The Sadducees say, “We cry out against you, O you Pharisees, for you say, 
‘The Holy Scriptures render the hands unclean,’ [and] ‘The writings of 
Hamiram [Homer?] do not render the hands unclean.’” 


5 |( 

Rabban Yohanan b. Zakkai [himself a Pharisee] said [perhaps 
mockingly], “Have we nothing else against the Pharisees except this? For 
lo, the [Pharisees say], ‘The bones of an ass are [ritually] clean [so 
cooking implements can be made from them], and the bones of Yohanan 
the High Priest are unclean. 

They [Pharisees] said to him, “As is our love for them so is their [the 
bones] uncleanness [they cannot be made into cooking implements] — that 
no man may make spoons of the bones of his father or mother.” 

He [Yohanan] said to them [the Sadducees], “Even so the Holy Scriptures: 
as is our love for them so is their uncleanness; [whereas] the writings of 
Hamiram which are held in no account do not render the hands unclean. ” 

The Sadducees say, “We cry out against you, O you Pharisees, for you 
declare clean an unbroken stream of liquid [that is poured into something 
ritually unclean; according to the Pharisees, the vessel from which the 
liquid is poured is not rendered unclean by the unbroken stream of liquid 
that touches the unclean vessel].” The Pharisees say, “We cry out against 
you, O you Sadducees, for you declare clean a channel of water that flows 

from a burial ground .” 1 

Four legal issues are involved here. The first is whether the books of 

Hamiram (Homer?) defile the hands. Schiffman relates this to the 
fact that the leaves of books are made from parchment, that is, 
animal skins; whether the animal skin is pure or not may depend on 
where the animal was slaughtered. The Sadducees, unlike the 
Pharisees, believed that all books, including Hamiram’s, defiled the 
hands. Books were made from animal skins; if the animals from 
which the parchment was made had been slaughtered outside the 
Temple, as was probably the case with Hamiram’s books, the books 
were unclean. At least this was the Sadducean view, as expounded by 
Schiffman. A damaged section of MMT does discuss animal skins and 
indicates that the skins of animals made unclean the person who 
carried them. But whether this is in fact what lies behind this first 
dispute is more of an assumption than a fact. 

The next issue deals with the ritual purity of bones. The Pharisaic 
view as expressed in the Mishnah is that bones, even of an unkosher 
animal like an ass, can be used to fashion a spoon — or at least the 
Sadducees accuse the Pharisees of this view. 

The Sadducees would declare all bones of unclean animals impure. 
Just as they would not make spoons from the bones of their parents, 


so they would not make spoons from the bones of an animal. 

Yohanan then catches the Sadducees in an inconsistency (although an 
inconsistency that is irrelevant for our purposes): If, as the 
Sadducees claim, their high regard (or love) for the bones of their 
parents (and of animals) renders the bones unclean, and their love for 
Holy Scripture renders these books unclean, how is it that the books 
of Hamiram (probably Homer), which the text tells us are worthless 
and therefore certainly unloved, defile the hands? 

Putting aside this inconsistency, it is true that in MMT there is a 
reasonable inference from the preserved words that making handles 

out of bones and skins for use on containers is prohibited; animal 
bones, like human bones, render one unclean upon contact. In MMT, 
the bones of unclean animals are considered unclean. The same 
position, incidentally, is enunciated in the Temple Scroll. The 
Mishnah passage implies, through the words of Rabban Yohanan b. 

Zakkai, that the Sadducees embraced this position. Thus Schiffman 
has a point in his favor in the second dispute. 

The third issue relates to whether a stream of liquid can convey 
impurity. Imagine a stream of pure (that is, ritually clean) water 
poured from a pure container into an impure container. On contact 
with the impure container, the water in the impure container of 
course becomes impure. But what of the water still in the pure 
container and the container itself? Does the impurity that attaches to 
the water when it touches the impure container travel back up the 
stream of water to contaminate the remaining water in the 
previously pure container? The Sadducees say the impurity does 
attach to the stream of liquid, rendering impure both the water in 
the previously pure container and the container itself. The Pharisees 
are more liberal and are of the opposite view. 

Here MMT clearly agrees with the Sadducees. The form of the word 
for a stream of liquid is not exactly the same in the two texts, but the 

legal stance is. 

The fourth issue is really a counterexample of the third issue. 
Despite the strictness of the Sadducean view, they do not stick to it 
regarding running water that has flowed through a burial ground and 
that should be, according to Sadducean logic, impure. In short, the 


Pharisees argue that the Sadducees are being inconsistent because in 
the case of a stream of water that comes from a burial ground the 
Sadducees seem not to have applied their principle, enunciated in 
the previous case, that a liquid stream conveys impurity. 

MMT probably agrees with the Sadducean position, as reflected in 
the Mishnah, in two (the second and third) of the four cases, while in 
the last case it is claimed that the MMT/Sadducean principle is not 

But this comparison has litde significance in identifying the Qumran 
sectarians as Sadducean. It does, however, allow the reader to 
appreciate how difficult it is to read and understand the logic in an 
important and compressed rabbinic text like the Mishnah. 

— J.C.V. 

tSee Chapter 3. 

*The Mishnah is the code of Jewish Law prepared by Rabbi Judah haNasi 
about 200 A.D. 

tThere may be one or two other exceptions. The Psalms of Solomon are 
thought by some to be Pharisaic. 

*See Chapter 2. 

' The Teacher of Righteousness was the early leader and revered teacher of 
the Qumran group; he is credited with being an inspired interpreter 
of the prophets. 

*“b.” is the standard rabbinic abbreviation for ben, meaning “son of.” 





We have already heard about the Damascus Document and its 
importance to the discussion of the origin of the Qumran 
sectarians. Oddly, two fragmentary copies of this document dating 
to the medieval period (a thousand years after the scrolls were 
deposited in the Qumran caves) were found in the last century, not 
in caves by the Dead Sea, but in the genizah, or worn manuscript 
storeroom, of an old synagogue in Cairo. In a sense, these Cairo 
copies were the first Dead Sea Scrolls to be discovered. Fifty years 
after they were recovered from the Cairo synagogue, at least nine 
fragmentary copies of this same document were discovered in the 
Qumran caves — confirming not only the early date of its 
composition, but also many of the prescient insights of the Jewish 
scholar who brought these early copies to Cambridge University in 

The drama of this nineteenth- century discovery is the subject of 
this chapter by Raphael Levy. It provides a fitting background to 
the later drama of the discovery of the scrolls by the Dead Sea. 
Levy also describes the content of the Cairo copies of the 
Damascus Document, which explains why they are so important in 
ferreting out the origins of the Qumran sectarians. 

The fragmentary copies of the Damascus Document found at 
Qumran have still not been fully published. As this chapter 


indicates, they were originally assigned for publication to JozefT. 
Milik who failed, after more than thirty years, to complete this 
assignment. Recently, however, the Qumran copies were 
reassigned to Professor Joseph Baumgarten of Baltimore Hebrew 
University. In the meantime, Hebrew transcripts of eight of the 
Qumran copies prepared in the 1950s by Milik have been released 
in the computer-generated texts of Professor Ben Zion Wacholder 

and Martin Abegg of Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati. These 
Qumran copies of the Damascus Document double and perhaps 
triple the amount of text available from the Cairo copies. The 
implications of the newly available material are not yet clear. 

However, the Cairo copies are themselves extraordinary. They 
describe a Jewish sect that regarded itself as the True Israel and 
that was in bitter opposition to the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem 
from whom they had. fled. The sect was led by a Teacher of 
Righteousness who was "gathered in," but who was expected to 
return as a Messiah at the end of days. 

Like the later Dead Sea Scrolls, early exaggerated claims were 
made about the connection between the Jewish sect described in 
the Cairo copies and Jesus, John the Baptist, and Paul. 


Some call it the First Dead Sea Scroll — but it was found in Cairo and 
not in a cave. It was recovered in 1897 in a genizah, a synagogue 
repository for worn-out copies of sacred writings. The gifted scholar 
who found it, Solomon Schechter, gave it with a hoard of other 
ancient Hebrew manuscripts to Cambridge University, where it 
remains today. 

Of course no one called it the First Dead Sea Scroll in 1897. That was 
fifty years before the momentous discovery of the actual Dead Sea 
Scrolls, in 1947, in the caves of Qumran on the northwestern shore of 
the Dead Sea. The manuscript Schechter retrieved received its 
nickname only after Dead Sea Scroll scholars realized that it was a 
copy of a document that belonged to, and described, the sect whose 
hidden library had been discovered at Qumran. 

Today, the “Damascus Document” (or the “Zadokite Fragments”), as 
this Genizah manuscript is known to scholars, is considered to be the 


most important document in existence for understanding the history 
of the Essenes, the people who produced and subsequendy hid the 
scrolls in the Qumran caves. And from its tattered pages, Schechter, 
who never dreamed of Qumran and died before its discovery, was 
able to give us our first recognizable portrait of the Qumran sect. 

The picture he painted was an astonishing one, and was, for a long 
time, unexplainable. “The annals of Jewish history,” Schechter 
wrote, “contain no record of a Sect agreeing in all points with the one 

depicted . . .” 

Schechter’s account told of a strange, highly structured and unknown 
Jewish brotherhood of Second Temple times, given to a fierce piety, 
the communal ownership of property, and a belief in a Messiah. 
Their doctrinal differences with establishment Judaism, he surmised, 
“led to a complete separation . . . from the bulk of the Jewish 

nation.” 2 

Schechter’s report of the brotherhood’s history and laws contained 
most of the mysterious and intriguing characters, places, and events 
that give the story of the Dead Sea Scroll sect its special flavor. In his 
pioneering study of the Cairo Genizah document published in 1910, 
Schechter told us of the sect’s unknown leader, the “Teacher of 
Righteousness,” and his terrible enemy, the “Man of Scoffing.” 

He told us also of the sect’s “Flight to Damascus” (hence the scholarly 
designation, “Damascus Document”) to escape persecution at home, 
and of its adoption there of a “New Covenant.” Finally, he told us that 
although the Teacher of Righteousness died, the sect believed that by 
remaining true to his teachings, the Teacher would return as a 

These, of course, are the very personae and occurrences that have 
emerged from such Dead Sea Scrolls as the Habakkuk Commentary 
and the Manual of Discipline. Numerous scholars since Schechter’s 
time have sought to date and identify the actual people referred to in 
the scrolls and to clarify the historical context of the events 
described. But to Schechter must go the credit for first bringing to 
the world’s attention this intriguing chapter in our common history. 

How Solomon Schechter came to the Cairo Genizah is an exciting 
story in itself. In 1896, when he set out for Cairo, Schechter was 


Reader in Talmud and rabbinical literature at Cambridge University. 
Born in a small Jewish community in Rumania, he showed early 
brilliance as a student and was sent to a series of yeshivot (rabbinical 
seminaries). Later he went to Vienna and Berlin, where he 
supplemented his rabbinical studies with secular subjects, including 
the new Judische Wissenschaft, the scientific study of Jewish history. 

In 1882, Claude Goldsmid Montefiore, wealthy scion of two great 
English-Jewish families, asked Schechter to be his tutor in rabbinics 
and brought him to London. Schechter was delighted with England 
and stayed. English Jews enjoyed many freedoms unknown to Jews in 
Germany, and the famous collections of Hebrew manuscripts and 
books in the British Museum and the Bodleian Library at Oxford 
were an additional enticement for Schechter. 

In 1890, Schechter was appointed Lecturer in Talmud at Cambridge. 
By then he had acquired something of a reputation as a scholar and 
essayist, and at the university his wit and abilities soon brought him 
warm friends. One of them was Dr. Charles Taylor, mathematician, 
eminent Christian Hebraist, and Master of St. John’s College. 

Then two remarkable women entered the story: Mrs. Agnes Smith 
Lewis and Mrs. Margaret Dunlop Gibson, twin sisters who were 
“incredibly learned . . . unbelievably eccentric . . . and wholly 

inseparable.” Both women were wealthy Scottish widows who were 
devoted to biblical scholarship, travel, and the collecting of early 
manuscripts. Other Victorian women might stay at home as they 
were expected to, but the “Giblews” had already made three daring 
trips on camels from Cairo to St. Catherine’s Monastery at Mt. Sinai 
to study and photograph the ancient writings in the library there. In 
May 1896 they returned to Cambridge from yet another Near Eastern 
trip, this time to Palestine and Egypt. There they had purchased 
ancient leaves of Hebrew writings that they asked Schechter to 

To his astonishment, Schechter recognized one leaf as part of the 
long-lost Hebrew text of the book of Ben Sira, a Jewish writing of the 
second century B.C., also known as Ecclesiasticus. Considered part of 
the bible by Catholics, and part of the Apocrypha by Protestants and 
Jews, The Wisdom of Ben Sira had not been seen in its Hebrew 
version for about a thousand years. It had been dropped from the Old 
Testament canon by Jews as not truly biblical, but it had been 


preserved in the Greek and other translations by the early Christian 

Schechter’s discovery established for the first time that 
Ecclesiasticus had indeed been written originally in Hebrew. (In 
1964, fragments of an original Hebrew text of Ben Sira were found at 
Masada by Yigael Yadin. They showed that Schechter’s leaf, although 
inscribed in the Middle Ages, was the authentic Hebrew text and not 
a translation from Greek into Hebrew as some skeptics had 

Mrs. Lewis now reported Schechter’s discovery to the press. This 
prompted others to search for additional Ben Sira material. Soon two 
Oxford scholars announced that they had found more Ben Sira leaves 
among recent acquisitions of the Bodleian. Suddenly a flurry of fresh 
press reports told of other Bible-related pieces that had been recently 
acquired by English libraries. As Schechter personally examined 
many of these, he came to suspect what no one else had yet realized: 
Most of this new material was coming from a single source, and in all 
likelihood that source was the genizah of the thousand-year-old Ben 
Ezra Synagogue in Fostat, Old Cairo. 

Fostat had once been a major center of Jewry, especially in the 
eleventh and twelfth centuries, when Egypt, along with much of the 
Near East, North Africa, and parts of Europe, was under Islamic rule. 
Its thriving Jewish community had had close connections with sister 
communities in Babylonia, Palestine, Spain, and other Mediterranean 
lands. Prominent Jewish scholars and religious leaders, such as 
Sa'adia ben Joseph (882-942), Yehuda ha-Levi (1075-1141), and the 
renowned theologian and philosopher Moses Maimonides (1135- 
1204), either lived in Fostat or stopped off there in their travels. 

Schechter hardly dared to dream of what the Fostat synagogue 
genizah might contain. He knew that he must go to Cairo to try to 
“empty” it and bring the mass of its contents back to Cambridge for 
scholars to study. Supported by colleagues, he took his plan to the 
Cambridge authorities and won their approval. His friend, Dr. Taylor, 
provided the funds for the expedition out of his personal means. In 
December 1896, Schechter sailed for Egypt armed with an 
impressive letter of recommendation from Cambridge University to 
Cairo’s Jewish leaders, and another to Cairo’s Grand Rabbi from the 
Chief Rabbi of Britain. 


Contrary to popular belief, Schechter did not discover the Cairo 
Genizah and took pains to disclaim that he had. Its existence, as well 
as that of other genizahs in Europe and Asia, had been known, more 
or less, to several generations of travelers, manuscript hunters, and 
scholars. Considerable misfortune, however, supposedly awaited 
those who attempted to remove its contents. One legend told of a 
great snake that protected the entrance and attacked would-be 
collectors. Such stories may have played a part in preserving the 
Genizah’s contents over the centuries. 

Still another deterrent may have discouraged would-be collectors: the 
real difficulties they would encounter in trying to enter and search 
the Genizah proper. It was a kind of attic chamber — dark, airless, and 
windowless. The entry was a hole reached by climbing a high, shaky 
ladder that stood against the end-wall of the synagogue’s women’s 
gallery. Jacob Saphir, a nineteenth-century scholar and traveler, 
entered the Genizah in 1864, but he left after two days without 
retrieving anything of importance; he was defeated by the dust, the 
dirt, and the hordes of insects. 

From the middle of the nineteenth century, however, despite 
deterrents, Cairo Genizah material found its way into the hands of 
individuals and institutions in England, Palestine, and elsewhere. 
Cambridge University acquired its first manuscript fragment from 
the Cairo Genizah in 1891. Fragments were generally secured from 
Cairo’s dealers in “antikas,” and their real source went unrecognized. 
As for the dealers, they had discovered that baksheesh, liberally 
extended to the keepers of the synagogue, overcame many obstacles. 

At least two visitors to the Ben Ezra Synagogue who preceded 
Schechter managed to secure significant amounts of Genizah material 
on their own. Both are remembered as among the most industrious 
and successful collectors of Hebrew manuscripts of their times. 

One was Abraham Firkowitch (1786-1874), who appears to have 
reached Cairo in the late 1860s. Firkowitch was a Karaite rabbi from 
the Crimea who was especially interested in finding material that 
supported the Karaite rejection of talmudic Judaism. Two large 
collections amassed by Firkowitch are part of the important Hebraica 
holdings of the Saltykov-Scherin Public State Library in Leningrad. 
The second collection is reported to hold valuable items that 
probably came from the Genizah. 


The second earlier manuscript hunter was Elkan Nathan Adler 
(1861-1946), London lawyer, bibliophile, and world traveler, who 
acquired a vast Hebrew library that included approximately five 
thousand Hebrew manuscripts and fragments, now owned by the 
Jewish Theological Seminary of New York. In January 1896, Adler 
was permitted to take away from the Cairo Genizah as much material 
as he could carry in an old Torah mantle. Schechter talked briefly 
with Adler before leaving for Cairo. 

It remained for Schechter, however, to penetrate the fabled 
storeroom and to empty it more or less. This feat required every bit 
of his considerable persuasive powers, his patience, his scholarship 
and, important as anything, his sheer physical stamina. It also 
required considerable baksheesh to mollify the synagogue’s 
custodians. After all, with every fragment he took, he was depriving 
them of their “fringe benefits” — the items they could sell 
surreptitiously to visitors and dealers. 

The incomplete record suggests that Schechter spent six to eight 
weeks in securing his prize. He left for Egypt in mid-December 1896. 
By the latter part of January 1897, he wrote from Cairo that the work 
was done “thoroughly” and that he intended to send the results back 
to England. He added his frequent complaint: “People steal fragments 

and sell them to the dealers.” 

Jews, since ancient times, have buried worn-out or defective copies 
of sacred texts to keep them from desecration. Normally, a genizah 
attached to a synagogue, as in Cairo, served as a temporary storage 
place until its contents could be buried in consecrated ground. No one 
knows why the contents of the Cairo Genizah were permitted — 
fortunately — to accumulate for centuries. But Schechter’s proposal to 
the Grand Rabbi and the lay heads of the Cairo Jewish community to 
“empty” the Genizah and to take away its “almost” buried works 
must have struck them at first as an unthinkable profanation. 


11. Balcony of Cairo synagogue where two copies of the Damascus Document 
were discovered in 1 89 7. The entrance to the storeroom, or genizah, is at upper 


Courtesy Cambridge University Library 


12. Interior of Cairo synagogue where Damascus Documents were found in 
storeroom off balcony at upper left. 

Courtesy Meir Ben-Dov, QADMONIOT XV, No. 1, 1982. 

Here Schechter’s vast knowledge of Jewish law and tradition 
undoubtedly stood him in great stead — and provided the assurances 
that, on the contrary, the transfer to a great university would mean 
the respected preservation of the Genizah’s manuscripts and texts. 

In due time the Grand Rabbi drove with Schechter to the Ben Ezra 
synagogue and showed him around. Schechter wrote: “The Rabbi 
introduced me to the beadles of the synagogue, who are at the same 
time the keepers of the Genizah, and authorized me to take from it 

what, and as much as, I liked.”" Armed with this critical 


endorsement that the keepers could hardly ignore, he was at last able 
to climb into the storeroom. He described what he found: 

It is a battlefield of books, and the literary productions of many centuries 
had their share in the batde, and their disjecta membra are strewn over the 
area. Some of the belligerents have perished outright, and are literally 
ground to dust in the terrible struggle for space, whilst others are squeezed 
into big, unshapely lumps, which . . . can no longer be separated without 

serious damage. 1 

Inside the Genizah, Schechter also found a serious threat to his 
health. Every move stirred up the dust of centuries — dust that got 
into his eyes, throat, every pore. He felt threatened with suffocation, 
but he persisted. To get the job done, he reluctantly accepted the help 
of the synagogue’s keepers, who declined regular payment but asked 
for baksheesh. Later, he noted dryly that baksheesh “besides being a 
more dignified kind of remuneration, also has the advantage of being 

expected for services not rendered.”' Schechter also bought, from a 
dealer in “antikas” in Cairo, some items that especially interested 
him — items that quite apparently had just come from the Genizah. 

Schechter more or less confined his search to securing manuscript 
material. He chose few printed works, dismissing them as 
“parvenus.” In a few weeks he had some thirty large bags crammed 
with his finds. When he ran into difficulties trying to export his 
material to Liverpool, he turned for help to the Office of the British 
Agent. The difficulties promptly vanished. Lord Cromer, the British 
Agent, was a Greek scholar who could readily appreciate the fact that 
Schechter’s fragments would add to England’s cultural treasures. He 
was also the virtual ruler of Egypt. 

By early spring — after his only visit to Palestine — Schechter went 
back to Cambridge. He plunged at once into the enormous task of 
examining, classifying, conserving, and storing his great haul. He 
estimated that he had secured one hundred thousand fragments and 
texts. But today at Cambridge the collection is counted at one 
hundred forty thousand pieces. It has taken eight decades to 
preserve, classify, and house all the pieces so they can be readily 
studied by scholars. 

News of Schechter’s scholarly exploit spread quickly. Soon he was 
something of a celebrity. Learned men came to visit him in his 
workroom in the university library and to get a glimpse of what he 


had brought back from Cairo. Dr. Taylor came by almost daily to help 
look for more Ben Sira leaves and to examine, with considerable 
enjoyment, any new finds. 

In June 1898, the senate of Cambridge University was advised that 
Dr. Taylor and Dr. Schechter had offered the university on certain 
conditions, “the valuable collection of manuscripts . . . brought back 
from the Genizah of Old Cairo with the consent of the heads of the 

Jewish community.”" The offer was duly accepted on November 10, 
1898, thereby establishing the now-famous Taylor-Schechter Genizah 
Collection of Cambridge University Library. 

Schechter’s first hope had been to “empty” the Genizah. He did do a 
splendid job of taking away its oldest material, but he did not empty 
it, and others finished the task. Today, though there are other 
important collections of Genizah material (secured both before and 
after Schechter’s expedition) in Oxford, London, New York, 
Leningrad, and other centers, none matches the collection at 
Cambridge either in size or in the volume of significant findings. 

Until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Taylor-Schechter 
Genizah collection easily represented the most important recovery of 
ancient Hebrew manuscript material in modern times. For some, 
because it has furnished so many fresh insights into forgotten 
centuries of Jewish life and thought, it still is. 

Schechter himself left Cambridge in 1902 to become president of the 
Jewish Theological Seminary of New York, a post he held until his 
death in 1915. In the United States, he helped to build the then- 
struggling Conservative movement into a major institution of 
contemporary Judaism. He came to New York hoping to initiate 
studies in a number of areas suggested by some of the Genizah 
fragments he had just examined. But the demands of his post soon 
made this impractical and he began to encourage others at the 
seminary to undertake such studies. 

He did, however, continue to work on two unusual writings he had 
found in the Cairo Genizah. In 1910 he published the results, a two- 
volume work entitled Documents of Jewish Sectaries. Volume II was 
called Fragments of the Book of Commandments by Anan. Anan is 
regarded as the eighth-century founder of Karaism, a Jewish schism 
based on the literal interpretation of Scripture, rejecting the Talmud 


or Oral Tradition. Karaism still exists and has a small number of 
followers. Volume I contained Schechter’s Fragments of a Zadokite 
Work and was devoted to the now-famous Damascus Document, 
which would one day be referred to as the first Dead Sea Scroll. 

The Damascus Document (CD is its scholarly abbreviation) is a codex 
— a book. It consists of two partially overlapping and incomplete 
manuscripts. The first (A) dates to the tenth century, and the second 
and shorter manuscript (B) dates to the twelfth century. The 
language of both is biblical Hebrew and reflects none of the later 
developments in the Hebrew language that took place after Jerusalem 
fell to the Romans in 70 A.D. From this Schechter correctly 
concluded that the original text of his two medieval manuscripts 
must have been written before the Roman destruction of the Temple. 

The Damascus Document reveals the history of a Jewish sect that 
saw itself as the True Israel and was in bitter opposition to the 
Jewish religious leaders in Jerusalem. The sect’s beginnings are 
traced to an “Age of Wrath,” which occurred in about 196 B.C., 390 
years after the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. 
During the Age of Wrath, the document indicates, pious people 
groped for the way to righteousness. A “Teacher of Righteousness” 
sent by God arose to guide them. But a powerful enemy arose also, in 
the person of the “Man of Scoffing.” Accordingly, the Teacher and his 
faithful followers fled from Judea to “the Land of Damascus.” There 
they adopted a “New Covenant,” and there, too, the Teacher was 
“gathered in.” He was expected to arise again as a Messiah “in the 
end of the days.” 

The second section of the Damascus Document contains the laws of 
the sect. These reflect a highly structured organization. The sectaries 
were divided into priests (who were called “b’nei Zadok ” — the sons 
of Zadok), Levites, Israelites, and proselytes. The laws also reflect the 
sect’s own interpretation of certain biblical injunctions, and include 
among other matters strict observance of the Sabbath, strict 
monogamy without divorce, and rigid rules of cleanliness as a part of 
religious observance. The sect also followed a heterodox calendar of 
twelve months of thirty days each, plus four intercalary days. 

From the fact that the priests were called the sons of Zadok and other 
evidence, Schechter advanced the hypothesis that the people of his 
manuscripts were the same mysterious “Sect of the Zadokites” 
referred to in the little-known early writings of the Karaites. 


Zadok, to whom the Damascus Document makes direct reference, 
was King David’s chief priest and the founder of the line from which 
the High Priest of the Temple was always chosen until the second 
century B.C. Then, under the ruling Greeks, the High Priest’s office 
went to the highest bidder, and under the later Maccabees, the 
Hasmoneans themselves occupied the office. But to the Teacher of 
Righteousness and his followers, such High Priests were illegitimate. 
The members of the sect apparently saw themselves as the inheritors 
of Zadokite tradition and practice and thus the true upholders of 
Jewish religious belief. 

Schechter could only offer a hypothesis about the identity of the 
sect. But he made a number of observations about their way of life 
that are startling to read today because his descriptions border, so it 
seems, on prophecy. 

Noting several references to their then-unknown works, he writes: 
“The Sect must also have been in possession of some Pseudepigrapha 
now lost.” A little later he writes: “This might suggest that the Sect 
was in possession of some sort of manual containing the tenets of the 

Sect, and perhaps a regular set of rules of discipline.” 

Fifty years later, with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, many of 
the lost Pseudepigrapha began to make their reappearance. Included 
was one scroll with “a regular set of rules of discipline” (now known 
as The Community Rule or Manual of Discipline-IQS). 

The publication of the Damascus Document anticipated the 
discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in still another way. Shortly after 
the scrolls were found, exaggerated claims appeared about their 

relationship to early Christianity. Some even identified the Teacher 
of Righteousness in the scrolls as Jesus. Others saw the Qumran sect 
as a direct forerunner of Christianity, led possibly by John the 
Baptist. These same assertions had all been made before, shortly after 
Schechter published the Damascus Document. On Christmas Day, 
1910, a front-page news story in The New York Times carried the 
following explosive headlines: 





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13. Column from Damascus Document found in 1897 in Cairo synagogue. 
T-S 10 K6/Courtesy Cambridge University Library 







One had to read the story very carefully to discover that it was not 
Schechter who had linked the Damascus Document with the 
beginnings of Christianity. The headline-catching theory had been 
advanced by Dr. George Margoliouth, Custodian of Hebrew 
Manuscripts of the British Museum. Reviewing Schechter’s 
publication, Margoliouth had announced his own conclusions 
regarding the Damascus Document. 

According to Margoliouth, the text originated in a “primitive Judeo- 
Christian body that . . . strove to combine full observance of Mosaic 
Law with the principles of the ‘New Covenant.’” As Margoliouth read 
the Damascus Document, the sect had two Messiahs. The first, a 
priestly Messiah descended from Aaron, was John the Baptist. The 
other, the “Teacher of Learning” (or Teacher of Righteousness), was 
surely Jesus! As for the Man of Scoffing, he was none other than 
Paul, whom the sect abhorred as a Christian Hellenizer. 

The Times continued to exploit this story of a “Hebrew Gospel earlier 
than the Gospels of the New Testament” by devoting a full-page 
feature to it a week later in its Sunday magazine. Schechter himself 
largely ignored this sensational interpretation, which he had done 
nothing to encourage. Margoliouth, however, continued to bark his 
theory at Schechter’s heels for several years. 

In late 1947 and early 1948, the world had not yet heard of the 
extraordinary discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. But in the tense city 


of Jerusalem, scholars were examining the first of the newly 
uncovered scrolls — seven in all. They had been found in a cave near 
Qumran by Bedouin tribesmen and brought to a dealer in Bethlehem. 

The distinguished scholar-archaeologist E. L. Sukenik (father of 
Yigael Yadin) immediately saw the connection between the Damascus 
Document and the Dead Sea Scrolls when he examined the three 
scrolls he had purchased in late 1947 for the Hebrew University of 

In March 1948, Millar Burrows, director of the American Schools of 
Oriental Research, independently recognized the relationship. With 
two young scholars, John C. Trever and William H. Brownlee — both 
now famous for their Dead Sea Scroll research — Burrows examined 
the four remaining scrolls, which were then owned by the 
Metropolitan Samuel, head of the Syrian Orthodox monastery of St. 
Mark. The Metropolitan had bought them from the same dealer who 
had sold the first three scrolls to Dr. Sukenik. 

The scrolls included both the Habakkuk Commentary (lQpHab) and 
the Manual of Discipline (or the Community Rule-IQS), the two 
works most clearly related to Schechter’s Damascus Document. 
Burrows, looking at the Habakkuk Commentary, was struck by the 
similarity of its details to the strange document that he recalled had 
been recovered years before in the Cairo Genizah. The three scholars 
immediately secured Schechter’s publication Fragments of a Zadokite 
Work from the school’s library. 

“The similarity of the contents was unmistakable,” Burrows wrote 
later. “I remember Brownlee’s enthusiasm when he found the 
Teacher of Righteousness and other characters of the Habakkuk 

Commentary in the Damascus Document.” Now it was clear. The 
sect of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the sect of the Damascus Document 
were the same. 

The relationship between the Qumran sect and the sect described in 
the Damascus Document was soon to be pinned down beyond any 
doubt. In September 1952, Bedouin tribesmen discovered what are 
now known as Qumran Caves 4 and 6. Archaeologists found little in 
the way of fragments in Cave 6, but that little included small bits of a 
copy of the Damascus Document! These bits have been dated to 
about 80-75 B.C. 


Qumran Cave 4 contained nearly fifteen thousand scroll fragments 
representing over five hundred manuscripts. From these, scholars 
eventually identified fragments of no fewer than seven copies of the 
Damascus Document! 

J. T. Milik, one of the editors of the Dead Sea Scrolls, has studied all 
of the Damascus Document fragments found at Qumran. He has 
concluded, as Schechter had earlier, that the Genizah text is 
incomplete and lacks both its beginning and ending. These lacunae 
have now been partly restored by the Qumran fragments. The same 
fragments have supplied additional regulations by which the scroll 
sect was governed. Milik has also shown that the paging in 
Manuscript A of the Genizah text is out of order and he has corrected 

With the fragments from Qumran, scholars have reestablished what 
the complete Damascus Document said. But the new fragments only 
supplement, they do not supplant, the manuscripts that Solomon 
Schechter found in the Genizah. From the Genizah documents, 
Schechter gave us our first picture of the people of the scrolls — 
somewhat blurred, but recognizable — well before the scrolls were 
discovered at Qumran. And from all the rediscovered writings, 
today’s scholars have extracted new insights into who the scroll 
people really were. 

*A Preliminary Edition of the Unpublished Dead Sea Scrolls: The Hebrew 
and Aramaic Texts from Cave Four. Fascicle One. Reconstructed and 
edited by Ben Zion Wacholder and Martin G. Abegg (Washington: 
Biblical Archaeology Society, 1991). — ED. 

* See Chapter 14. 





This chapter explains in historical context why the Damascus 
Document is so important in determining Essene origins. In 
Chapter 2, Harvard’s Frank Cross gave his historical 
reconstruction of Essene origins in Palestine during the Hasmonean 
dynasty when the high priesthood was usurped. In this chapter, we 
consider an alternate theory, propounded by Father Jerome 
Murphy-O’ Connor of the E cole Biblique in Jerusalem — that Essene 
origins should be traced to Babylonia during the Judean exile. 
Murphy-O’ Connor’s hypothesis is intriguing; it relies heavily on the 
Damascus Document and the flight to Damascus described there. 

This chapter also considers what eventually happened to the 
Essenes — at least to those who remained in Babylonia. They may 
have resurfaced hundreds of years later in a sect of Jews known as 
Karaites, some of whom survive to this day. Hitler wanted to 
exterminate them; to save their lives, rabbinical authorities ruled 
that they were not Jews. 


Scholars have proposed two basic theories concerning the origin of 
the people who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls. One theory suggests that 
the Essenes originated in Palestine, the other in Babylonia. The 
Damascus Document figures prominently in the formulation of both 


In the Palestine-origin theory, the Essene movement was a reaction 
against the Hellenization of Palestinian Judaism. This process of 
Hellenization began almost imperceptibly in the third century B.C. In 
the first part of the second century B.C., however, the forces of 
Hellenization gained new ground both culturally and politically. 
Then, in 172 B.C., Onias III, the legitimate High Priest, was murdered 
in Jerusalem: Onias was a Zadokite, a priest who was descended from 
Zadok (King David’s high priest and originator of the line of High 
Priests of the Temple in Jerusalem). In Onias’ stead, the Syrian 
overlords appointed Meneleus, a highly Hellenized Jew who was not 
of the Zadokite line. To many of the faithful, Meneleus could only be 
a usurper. 

Matters were made still worse by the increasingly forced 
Hellenization and religious oppression of the Syrian overlord, King 
Antiochus IV. In 165 B.C. Judea finally revolted. Under the brilliant 
military leadership of Judas Maccabeus, the revolt was successful, 
and an independent Jewish state was once again established. (This 
victory is still celebrated by Jews in the festival of Hanukkah.) 

Thus began the Hasmonean line of Jewish kings — first Judas himself 
(165-160 B.C.), then his brother Jonathan (160-143 B.C.), and then, 
lastly, his brother Simon (143-134 B.C.). 

As matters turned out, however, the Hasmoneans brought not a 
return to orthodoxy but increased Hellenization. Even Judas himself 
signed a treaty of friendship with the Roman Senate and employed 
partly Hellenized Jews as his ambassadors. Finally, in 152 B.C., 
Jonathan had himself appointed High Priest — another usurpation; 
for many Jews this act was a great provocation and the strongest 
reason for abhorring the Hasmoneans. 

According to the Palestinian theory of Essene origins, it was in this 
atmosphere that the Essene movement began. Jews, disgusted with 
what they believed to be the pollution of their ancestral religion and 
revolted by the usurpation of the High Priesthood by non-Zadokites, 
rallied behind a man they called Moreh Tzedek, the Teacher of 
Righteousness. No doubt the Teacher of Righteousness was of the 
Zadokite line, a legitimate claimant to the title of High Priest. He was 
opposed, however, by the Wicked Priest who ruled illegitimately in 


The faithful retreated to the desert to live a life of ritual purity, 
observing the ancient law, following the old calendar that marked the 
holy times, and awaiting the day when the Teacher of Righteousness 
would be accepted by all Jews as High Priest and would return once 
again to Jerusalem. This is the Palestinian theory of Essene origins. 

The Babylonian theory of Essene origins traces the beginning of this 
strange sect to Jews in Babylonia who had been deported there after 
the destruction of the First Temple in 586 B.C. Many of these Jews, 
deported from their Judean homeland, perceived the Babylonian 
Exile as divine punishment. As an appropriately submissive response 
to this divine judgment, they bound themselves as a group to a 
perfect observance of the law, determined that history should not 
repeat itself. Some of this group — whom we may call Essenes — 
returned to Palestine at what they must have regarded as a 
propitious moment, the victory of Judas Maccabeus and the renewal 
of an independent Jewish state. Once there, however, they were 
bitterly disappointed by the Hellenized forms of Judaism that 
controlled the state. After an initial attempt to bring their erring 
brethren to the truth, they retreated to the isolation of Qumran, near 
the northern end of the Dead Sea. Led by the Teacher of 
Righteousness, the Essenes believed that adherence to their precepts 
was the one sure refuge against the coming messianic judgment. 

Much of the support for this Babylonian-origin theory comes from 
the Damascus Document, especially its historical allusions. For 
example, the Damascus Document alludes to leaving the land of 

Judah (CD 4:2; 6:5) and going to the land of the North (CD 7:13) or 
the land of Damascus (CD 6:5; 20:12). Other passages in the 
Damascus Document suggest that the Essene movement had been in 
existence long before the Teacher of Righteousness appeared on the 

This earlier origin of the sect is reflected in a story contained in the 
Damascus Document about the digging of a well of the Law. Some of 
the diggers of the well do so in response to divine call; others do so 
on the basis of precepts given to them by the Teacher of 
Righteousness. The first group is identified as “the returnees of Israel 
who went out of the land of Judah and were exiled in the land of 
Damascus.” (Qumran, incidentally, is in the land of Judah, so if the 
passage is to be understood literally, a non-Palestinian journey must 
be referred to by those who “were exiled in the land of Damascus.”) 


The Damascus Document contains a historical summary (CD 2:18- 
3:12) that culminates with the Babylonian Exile. According to the 
Damascus Document, among those who survived the Exile, “God 
established his covenant with Israel forever, revealing to them the 
hidden things in which all Israel had strayed” (CD 3:13-14). 
According to Jerome Murphy-0 ’Connor, the leading proponent of the 
Babylonian-origin theory, “Israel,” in this quotation, refers to the 
Essenes and “all Israel” refers to the rest of Judaism that strayed. The 
passage, he says, refers to what the Damascus Document calls the 
“new covenant in the land of Damascus” (CD 6:19; 19:33-34). 
“Damascus,” according to the Babylonian-origin theory, is a symbolic 
name for Babylon. This symbolism is made clear in a passage from 
Amos (5:26-27) that is quoted in the Damascus Document. In this 
passage from Amos, God speaks of having ordered the exiles from His 

tent “in Damascus,” obviously meaning Babylon. Similarly, this 
same passage from Amos is quoted in Acts 7:43, but Babylon is 
substituted for Damascus. 

There are still other indications that the Essenes originated in 
Babylonia. For example, the great American biblical archaeologist, 
William F. Albright, pointed out long ago that vocalization of certain 
Assyro-Babylonian words in the famous Isaiah Scroll from the Dead 


Sea caves reflects a Babylonian prototype. 

Much of the legislation contained in the Damascus Document is 
designed for a community living in a non-Jewish environment. Many 
of the regulations govern dealings with Gentiles. Yet Judah can hardly 
be considered a Gentile environment, despite its profound 
Hellenization. These regulations, according to the Babylonian-origin 
theory, were intended for use while the sect was living in Damascus 
— that is, Babylonia. 

The conclusion of the Babylonian-origin theory is that the Damascus 
Document was originally written by Jews living in the Diaspora, in 
Babylonian exile. The importance of this document — already ancient 
when the Jews founded their desert community in Qumran — is 
reflected in the fact that at least nine copies were kept in the Qumran 
library. Fragments of these documents were found in the Qumran 
caves by Bedouin and archaeologists two thousand years later. 

Those who maintain the Palestinian-origin of the Essenes contend 
that the journey to Damascus is simply a symbolic journey, not a real 



How did this document reflecting Essene origins get to the Cairo 
Synagogue? The answer may tell us something about the subsequent 
history of the Qumran sect. 

According to the Damascus Document, not all those who entered into 
“the new covenant in the land of Damascus” returned to Palestine. 
Some remained in Babylonia. What happened to those who remained 
we do not know. 

But over thirteen hundred years after the deportation of Jews to 
Babylonia following the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., a new 
Jewish movement arose in Babylonia. It originated in the eighth 
century A.D. and was started by a certain Anan ben David who 
attempted to purify Judaism by a return to the fundamentals of 
biblical law. This new movement, whose adherents were called 
Karaites, rejected the Talmud or oral law, which they considered 
inauthentic accretions to biblical law. The Karaites, like the Essenes, 
rigorously insisted on exact adherence to a literal interpretation of 
the written or biblical law. 

The remnants of the Essenes or their descendants who remained in 
Babylonia may have provided some of the inspiration and even some 
of the core adherents to the Karaites. 

No doubt the Essenes represented the ultraconservative branch of 
Babylonian Jewry. They believed they alone knew, in the words of 
the Damascus Document, “the exact interpretation of the Law” (CD 
4:8; 6:14). Like the Essenes, the Karaites believed that their teaching 
represented the pure, original Mosaic faith, free of later distortions 
and corruptions. In this, as well as in other aspects, Karaite doctrine 
parallels the Essene movement, although this doctrine developed 
more than a millennium after the Essenes. In two regulations 
especially — relating to incest and to the Sabbath fire — there is a 
detailed affinity between the Essenes and the Karaites. According to 
Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, “A direct relationship [between the 
Essenes and the Karaites] seems undeniable, and the simplest 
hypothesis would be that some members of the New Covenant had 
remained in Babylon and had maintained their identity with the 
tenacity common to Jewish sects.” Eventually, they became 

. * 



The Karaite movement was a powerful sect within Judaism for many 
centuries. The Karaites zealously opposed the “rabbanites,” that is, 
those who accepted postbiblical rabbinic regulations and the binding 
nature of the Talmud or oral law. At its height in the tenth and 
eleventh centuries, the Karaite movement had millions of adherents 
in centers in Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and Persia, as well as in 
Babylonia. Later, Karaite centers were established in Spain, and in the 
Ottoman Empire and Eastern Europe. Remnants of the Karaites 
continued to exist for centuries after the movement ceased to be a 
significant force in Jewish life, just as, it is conjectured, pockets of 
Essenes continued to live in Babylonia perhaps even at the time the 
Karaite movement originated there. At the end of World War II, there 

were still twelve thousand Karaites in the world. Even today seven 
thousand Karaites live in Israel. 

Copies of the Damascus Document were probably handed down and 
recopied by descendants of the Essenes in Babylonia. These copies 
passed into the hands of the Karaites. Two copies of the Damascus 
Document, perhaps already containing some Karaite glosses, were 
then taken to the Egyptian synagogue by Karaites who moved to 

Solomon Schechter himself detected Karaite elements in the 
Damascus Document. He found references to a sect of Zadokites in 
Karaite literature and saw relationships between this literature and 
references in the Damascus Document. On this basis, he was able to 
hypothesize that the Damascus Document actually contained “the 

constitution and teachings of a sect long ago extinct.” 

The circle became complete when fragments of at least nine copies of 
the Damascus Document were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls at 

*CD is the abbreviation scholars use to designate the Cairo copies of the 
Damascus Document. 

* Others read the passage from Amos as ordering the exiles to Damascus. 
In either case, the symbolism is the same. Damascus is used for 

*Even before Solomon Schechter published the Damascus Document, 
scholars of Karaite history noted the similarities between the Essenes 
and Karaites. The Jewish Encyclopedia of 1902-1905 states that the 


Karaites “borrowed” from the Essenes. Other scholars reject this 
contention, however, arguing that “nowhere in early Karaite literature 
so far known is there mention of the discovery of pre-Karaite 
documents confirming the righteousness of the Karaite teachings” 
(Encyclopedia Judaica, Vol. 10, p. 762 [1972]). 

*Nazi authorities were gready concerned as to whether the Karaites were 
Jews. They posed this question to three rabbinical authorities who, in 
order to save the Karaites, all gave the opinion that Karaites were not 
of Jewish origin. The Karaites were spared by the Nazis. 








Until his untimely death in 1984, Yigael Yadin was Israel’s 
foremost archaeologist. His two most famous excavations were 
Masada, where the Zealots made their last stand against the 
Roman conquerors who destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. ; and 
Hazor, which he believed was conquered by Joshua when the 
Israelites first entered the Promised Land. 

In this chapter, Yadin describes the great Temple Scroll, which he 
acquired just after the Six-Day War in 1967. He recounts his 
earlier aborted effort to acquire this scroll, its actual recovery, 
and then the laborious effort to unroll it. We get a marvelous feel 
for what it is like working with such a scroll (Later, in Chapter 
19, we will learn what it is like working with tiny fragments, as 
compared to the largely intact Temple Scroll.) 

According to Yadin, the Temple Scroll was the Torah of the 
Essenes. He describes its contents in some detail and then considers 
how the Temple Scroll can help us better understand the doctrines 
of early Christianity, a topic discussed in greater detail in Chapter 
14. This discussion is an excellent example of how scholars use the 
Dead Sea Scrolls to illuminate early Christianity and rabbinic 

An appendix to this chapter describes the temple envisioned in the 
Temple Scroll. 



On August 1, 1960, I received a letter from a man who identified 
himself as a Virginia clergyman. The letter stated that the writer was 
in a position to negotiate the sale of “important, authentic 

discoveries of Dead Sea Scrolls.” Obviously, he contacted me 
because of my intimate involvement in Israel’s acquisition of the 
original Dead Sea Scrolls six years earlier. 

In a subsequent letter, Mr. Z, as I shall refer to him, indicated the 
price for an entire scroll would be around one million dollars, since 
the Jordanian dealer who possessed the material (and here he named 
a well-known dealer involved in previous transactions for the 
purchase of Dead Sea Scrolls, whom I shall call “the dealer” [actually, 

Kando ]) “knows their true value.” I informed Mr. Z of my 
willingness to negotiate only if the price was reasonable in 
comparison to the price paid to the Metropolitan Samuel for the 
original Dead Sea Scrolls. 

An exchange of correspondence ensued, and on October 7, I 
purchased from Mr. Z — or through him — a fragment of the Psalms 
Scroll from Cave 11 at Qumran. The pieces adjacent to this fragment 
were in the Rockefeller Museum, and how Mr. Z obtained this 
fragment — before the other fragments were obtained by the museum, 
or after — we shall never know. In any event, it was clear he had 
access to authentic materials from the Dead Sea Scroll caves. 

Then on May 29, 1961, Mr. Z wrote that he had for sale not a 
fragment but an entire scroll. Moreover, the price was realistic: 
$100,000. On June 1, 1961, I replied that I would try to raise the 
$100,000 and would be in touch with him soon. 

Shortly thereafter, I left for London, where I spent some time on 
sabbatical. There, by letter of August 9, 1961, Mr. Z informed me that 
he had clarified all details of the sale with the dealer and that the 
scroll in question was a large one: “nine inches wide, about fifteen to 
eighteen feet long.” Since, as Mr. Z said in his letter, a purchaser 
would no doubt be concerned with the authenticity of the scroll, he 
was enclosing a fragment that had broken off from the scroll. 

I examined the envelope and found a fragment of a scroll wrapped in 
tin foil from a package of cigarettes. The back of the fragment was 


reinforced with a piece of a British postage stamp. I immediately saw 
that the fragment was authentic! 

It did not surprise me that Mr. Z would send me the fragment like 
this. He had previously sent me the Psalms Scroll fragment in a 
manila envelope wrapped in a napkin, trusting me to send him the 

In his letter Mr. Z asked me to make an evaluation of the new 
fragment and send it back to him by return mail — which is exactly 
what I did. I advised Mr. Z that the fragment seemed to belong to a 
genuine scroll of the Dead Sea type and was written by a good scribe. 

On August 29, 1961, Mr. Z wrote back that the asking price for the 
scroll was now $750,000. Angered by this increase in price, I replied 
that his letter “baffled and infuriated me since it indicates you never 
took seriously what I told you regarding the price ... If things 
remain as you state in your letter, I am afraid you can rule me out as 
a customer.” Soon thereafter I left England for the United States 
where wearisome and often detailed negotiations continued with Mr. 

Finally, a deal was struck. The agreed price was $130,000. An 
intricate six-page agreement to be signed by the dealer was drafted by 
a lawyer. The agreement provided that prior to payment we would 
examine the scroll itself for authenticity and for its correspondence 
to the fragment. We also agreed on a $10,000 down payment, which I 
gave to Mr. Z, and he in turn once again gave me the fragment I had 
returned to him so that I could eventually compare it to the entire 
scroll. I also gave Mr. Z $1,500 to finance a trip to Bethlehem, then 
under Jordanian control, which he said was necessary to conclude 
the agreement with the dealer. 

The agreement prepared by the lawyer was never signed by the 
dealer. On December 1, 1961, I received a letter from Mr. Z saying 
that difficulties had arisen: The price was now $200,000. Since I had 
the fragment, he decided to hold the $10,000 “in order to work in 
good faith on both sides since you have the all-important piece.” 
Further correspondence ensued in January and February 1962, Mr. Z 
asking for further advances and I trying to get back the $10,000. 

The last letter received from Mr. Z was on May 17, 1962. He again 
made “promises” and again pleaded for more money. That was the 


last we ever heard from him. 

I consoled myself with the thought that at least I had the fragment. I 
tried to put the matter out of my mind but obviously could not. In 
1963 I began my excavations at Masada, Herod’s desert fortress and 
the place where the Zealots made their last stand against the Romans. 
This excavation was a consuming interest, but I nevertheless 
continued to peruse the scientific archaeological publications 
concerning the scrolls, wondering whether I would find some 
reference to a new Dead Sea Scroll. Nothing appeared, however. 

If Masada was not enough to put the matter out of my mind, the Six- 
Day War in June 1967 was. I was then serving as military advisor to 
the prime minister. On June 7, the Israel Defense Force captured the 
Old City of Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Suddenly, I recalled the scroll. 
The dealer involved had a shop in East Jerusalem and lived in 
Bethlehem. Both he and his scroll might be within Israeli 
jurisdiction! I immediately reported this to Prime Minister Levi 
Eshkol, who put at my disposal a lieutenant colonel from military 

After I briefed the lieutenant colonel about the supposed scroll and 
the fragment in my possession, he went to the dealer’s shop and 
informed him of the scroll fragment we had obtained from Mr. Z. 
After brief negotiations, the dealer agreed to take the officer to his 
home in Bethlehem. There, the dealer removed from beneath some 
floor tiles a shoe box containing the scroll. He also produced a cigar 
box containing fragments that had become detached from the scroll. 
Later, it was discovered that the dealer had hidden additional 
fragments behind family pictures, both in his own home and in his 
brother’s home. 

The military government confiscated the scroll and fragments in 
accordance with Jordanian law governing antiquities. Although the 
dealer had illegally concealed the scroll’s existence from the 
Jordanian authorities and had kept it under dreadful conditions that 
caused extensive damage, especially to the upper part of the scroll, it 
was nevertheless decided to pay him for the scroll — for the simple 
reason that we want to encourage such people to come forward if 
they have additional scroll materials. The amount finally agreed upon 
with the dealer, after negotiations lasting almost a year, was 


Unfortunately, I was given the job of raising the money. This task 
proved not to be so onerous, however, because of the generosity of 
Mr. Leonard Wolfson of Great Britain, who contributed $75,000 for 
this purpose. The balance was paid by the Israeli government. Thus 
ended the saga of the scroll’s acquisition. The saga of its unrolling 

I first held the scroll in my hands on the evening of Wednesday, June 
8, 1967, the day Israeli forces united East and West Jerusalem. On 
June 11, the war was over, and we started the task of unrolling the 
scroll shortly thereafter. The work was done under the direction of 
Joseph “Dodo” Shenhav of the Israel Museum. 

14. The Temple Scroll as recovered from the home of a Bethlehem antiquities 
dealer after the Six-Day War. 

Courtesy Estate of Yigael Yadin 


15. Broken-off fragments of the Temple Scroll kept in a cigar box by Bethlehem 

antiquities dealer. 

Courtesy Estate of Yigael Yadin 


16. Interior of Qumran Cave 11, where the Temple Scroll was recovered by 


David Harris 

The first part of the scroll we unrolled was a separate wad we call 
Wad Y, which had been wrapped in cellophane inside the shoebox. 
The fragments in this wad turned out to be the beginning of the 
extant part of the scroll. Letters and even words had peeled off some 
of the columns of script and attached themselves, in mirror image, on 
the backs of preceding columns (the scroll was rolled with the end on 
the innermost core). The first extant column of Wad Y had the 
imprint from a preceding but now lost column; unfortunately, the 


mirror image was so faint I could not decipher the letters. I could 
conclude only that there must have been at least one earlier column, 
so I called the first extant column II. Wad Y contained columns II 
through V. 

Next we tried to unroll what we call Wad X, which contained 
columns VI through XIII. Wad X had been rolled so tightly that at 
times the entire text was preserved in mirror image on the back of 
the previous column. Sometimes the text was preserved only in this 

Other wads were slowly and carefully separated and pieces gradually 
fitted together and into the main text, based on the contours of the 
edges. In the end, we were left with a wad consisting of a black 
macerated mass containing the remnants of two or three columns, 
but we could neither separate it nor decipher the letters. We 
photographed the amorphous mass from every angle, with different 
lightings, with regular, orthochromatic, and infrared film — all with 
negligible results. 

Fortunately, the scroll proper was for the most part easier to unroll 
than the wads. In general, we used the process developed by H. J. 
Plenderlieth to open the original Dead Sea Scrolls — softening the 
outer roll by a process of humidification at 75 to 80 percent. When 
this process did not work, we used another developed by Plenderlieth 
— applying nearly 100 percent humidity for several minutes, 
immediately followed by a few minutes of refrigeration. In some 
cases, we could not use this process, however, because the adjacent 
writing was in such fragile condition it would have been damaged by 
the process. In such cases, we had no choice except to leave the 
pieces stuck together and try to salvage their contents with 
photographs from back and front against the light. Occasionally, we 
were compelled to cut the columns lengthwise, a kind of plastic 
surgery, and then to rejoin them after their separation. 

The animal skin on which the scroll is written is extremely thin, 
indeed the thinnest I have ever encountered. Nowhere is it more than 
one-tenth of a millimeter thick. Nevertheless, and despite the use of a 
sharp instrument, the scribe was able to rule in guidelines (so-called 
“drylines”) without making cuts in the skin. Two different hands, 
called Scribe A and Scribe B, have been detected in the script. 

As I have already indicated, the beginning of the scroll is missing, but 


we know that we have the end because there is a blank sheet at the 
end of the scroll, as is customary at the end of all Dead Sea Scrolls. 

The scroll contains sixty-six columns of text and is twenty-seven feet 
long. This makes it the longest of all the Dead Sea Scrolls. Previously, 
the great Isaiah Scroll — twenty-two feet long — containing the entire 
text of the book of Isaiah — was the longest of the scrolls, which gives 
some idea of the length of the Temple Scroll. 

On the basis of the script, the scroll can be dated to the Late Herodian 
period, say mid-first century A.D. or a little earlier. But that is the 
date of this copy, not necessarily the date of the composition it 

I believe the date of the composition of the scroll, however, was 
much earlier — approximately 150-125 B.C. I have several reasons for 
this conclusion. One is that we found two unpublished fragments 
from Qumran Cave 4 in the Rockefeller Museum that came from 
other, earlier copies of this same composition. The earlier of these 
fragments was written in a Hasmonean script that can be dated to 
about the last quarter of the second century B.C. (about 125-100 
B.C.), so our scroll could have been composed no later than this. 
Moreover, I believe I can detect historical allusions in the text that 
would confirm a dating of 150-125 B.C. This subject is treated at 

some length in my three-volume edition of the scroll. 1 

A more interesting question is, what was this composition? It is my 
belief that this scroll contains nothing less than the basic torah or law 
of the Essenes who lived at Qumran on the northwestern shore of the 
Dead Sea. For them it was a holy book, a part of the canon of what 
we call the Bible, the Torah of the Lord. Moreover, I believe the scroll 
was composed by the founder of the sect, the venerated Teacher of 

I have several reasons for believing this document was the Essene 
torah, equal in importance to the traditional Torah, which they 
naturally also venerated as a holy book. Let me list some of the 
reasons for believing this scroll was the Essene Torah. 

The scroll contains long passages from the Pentateuch, sometimes 
whole chapters, but the scroll is frequently written in the first 
person, with God himself speaking, instead of Moses referring to God 


in the third person, as is often the case in the parallel Pentateuchal 
passages. This change is accomplished by replacing the 

tetragrammaton LORD in the Pentateuch by “I” or “me” in the 
Temple Scroll. Even the supplementary laws in the Temple Scroll, 
which are not in the Pentateuch, are often written in the first person. 

17. Unrolling a "wad" from the Temple Scroll 
Courtesy Estate of Yigael Yadin 


28. The Temple Scroll 
Courtesy Estate of Yigael Yadin 

Thus, the text of Numbers 30:3 appears in the Temple Scroll as 
follows: “When a woman vows a vow to me ... ” Obviously, the 
author wished to present the Law as if handed down by God himself, 

rather than through the mouth of Moses. 

On the other hand, the tetragrammaton is also used in a number of 
instances in the Temple Scroll. These passages, however, also contain 
an important clue regarding the canonical or holy status of the 
Temple Scroll. To understand this clue, a little background is 

Hebrew was originally written in a script scholars refer to as Old 
Hebrew, or Palaeo- Hebrew. When the Jews returned from exile in 
Babylon, they brought with them a square “Aramaic” script that 
gradually replaced the previously used script. However, the earlier 
Old Hebrew script continued to be used in certain archaizing 
contexts. For example, during the First and Second Jewish Revolts 
against Rome in 66-73 A.D. and 132-135 A.D., the Jews minted coins 


using the older Hebrew script on them. In the Dead Sea Scrolls, the 
tetragrammaton is sometimes written in Palaeo-Hebrew in the midst 
of a text otherwise written in the square Aramaic text that was in 
common use at the time. In the Dead Sea Scrolls, the archaized, 
Palaeo-Hebrew tetragrammaton generally occurs in noncanonical, 
that is, nonbiblical, texts. In the books of the Bible preserved at 
Qumran, the tetragrammaton is written, by contrast, in the square 
Aramaic script, just like the rest of the text. 

In the Temple Scroll, when the tetragrammaton is used, it is written 
in the square Aramaic script, as in the biblical books found at 
Qumran. This is another reason to believe that the Temple Scroll was 
considered by the Essene community as biblical or canonical. 

The subject matter and the fact that such a long scroll — nearly thirty 
feet — was copied several times at Qumran, as we know from the 
Rockefeller Museum fragments, also indicates that it was probably 
considered a holy book. 

The Temple Scroll probably even contains excerpts from certain lost 
books referred to in the Bible, according to the Essene tradition, 
which are otherwise unknown. This again requires some background 
to understand. 

While still in the wilderness, the Israelites were implicitly 
commanded to build a temple for the Lord once they were 
established in the Promised Land. For example, in Deuteronomy 
12:10-11, we read: 

But when you go over the Jordan, and live in the land which the Lord your 
God gives you to inherit, and when he gives you rest from all your 
enemies round about, so that you live in safety; then to the place which the 
Lord your God will choose, to make his name dwell there, thither you 
shall bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings and your 
sacrifices, your tithes and the offering that you present, and all your votive 
offerings which you vow to the Lord. 

The building of the Jerusalem Temple was one of the most important 
tasks enjoined upon the Israelites in the wilderness. But the Bible 
contains no laws for the plan of the temple. This is a startling 
omission. Despite detailed laws and descriptions of the Tabernacle 
and its utensils, the Torah gives no divine law concerning the plan of 
the temple! 


Later biblical writers noticed this unusual omission. The Chronicler 

Then David gave Solomon his son the plan of the vestibule of the temple, 
and of its houses, its treasuries, its upper rooms, and its inner chambers, 
and of the room for the mercy seat; and the plan of all that he had in mind 
for the courts of the house of the Lord (and the details of all the sacred 
furniture). ... All this he made clear by the writing from the hand of the 
Lord concerning it, all the work to be done according to the plan (1 
Chronicles 28:11-19). 

All this was made clear in writing from the Lord? Where was this 
written in the Torah? 

According to the rabbis, a scroll existed in which this Torah was 
written. They even called it the Temple Scroll (megillat beth ha — 
mikdash). It was given to David, said the rabbis, through Moses, 
Joshua and the prophets: “The Temple Scroll which the Holy One 
blessed Be He committed to Moses . . . , Moses . . . transmitted to 
Joshua . . . and Joshua to the Elders and the Elders to the Prophets 
and the Prophets to David and David to Solomon” (Martin Buber, ed., 
Midrash Samuel, xv:3(92)). 

The scroll we obtained in 1967 contains elaborate plans for the 

building of the temple. Indeed, nearly half of the scroll is taken up 
with the plans for the temple, sacrifices, and the laws of the city of 
the temple. That is why I decided to call it the Temple Scroll. I do not 
claim that this scroll contains the text of the scroll supposedly 
handed down to David (and definitely not the one the rabbis had in 
mind). But I do believe that the author of this part of the scroll was 
writing with knowledge of the existence of a Temple Scroll referred 
to obliquely in the book of Chronicles. Either believing that he was 
divinely inspired or basing his descriptions on an older tradition, he 
considered himself to be preserving this missing part of the Torah, 
referred to in the biblical book of Chronicles. It is interesting to note 
that the Temple Scroll concentrates on precisely those elements 
detailed in the passage from Chronicles in which God’s missing laws 
for the plan of his temple are described — the vestibule, the 
treasuries, the upper rooms, the inner chambers. In the Temple 
Scroll, God himself speaks in minute detail concerning His temple to 
be built by the children of Israel. He is the Master Architect, 
supplying the plans missing from the Torah. At the end of days, in 
the New Creation, God himself will build the temple. 


Another major portion of the Temple Scroll — nearly four columns — 
is devoted to what I call the Statutes of the King. This portion of the 
scroll could also be called the Torah of the King or the Laws of the 
King or even the Constitution of the King. This portion of the scroll 
contains laws relating to the marriage of the king, rules for 
mobilization during war, limited rights of the king to booty in war, 
provision for an advisory council (consisting of twelve priests, 
twelve Levites, and twelve lay Israelites), provision for subordinate 
administrative positions of authority, and other such matters. This 
too may be related to an otherwise unknown book referred to in the 

While still in the wilderness, the Israelites were commanded to 
appoint a king after they occupied the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 
17:14-15). Yet here too there is a startling omission in the Torah. 
There is almost a complete absence of laws governing the king. There 
are a few verses in Deuteronomy 17:15-20 and in 1 Samuel 8:llff. 
regarding the rights and duties of the king and “he [Samuel] wrote 
down in a book which he laid before the Lord.” 

What happened to this book? Jews must have asked themselves. In 
my view, the author of the Temple Scroll believed he was writing 
down, in the sections of the Temple Scroll I have labeled Statutes of 
the King, the contents of this missing book, according to his 

In this connection it is interesting that two of the principal points 
made in 1 Samuel 8:11-12 are that the king “will appoint for himself 
commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties” and that the 
king is entitled to a “tenth of your grain and of your vineyards [and] . 
. . of your flocks.” These two subjects are among the most important 
dealt with in the Temple Scroll’s Statutes of the King. 

In Deuteronomy 17:18 we are told, “And when he [the king] sits on 
the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy 
of this law (mishneh ha-torah ha-zot), from that which is in charge of 
the Levitical priests. . . .” This verse is generally considered by 
scholars to refer to the whole of Deuteronomy, that is, the second 
copy of the Law or Torah. The rabbis, or at least some of them, 
understood this passage to refer to a copy of the previous verse; 
there were also other speculations. But the author of the Temple 
Scroll used this verse from Deuteronomy to introduce the Statutes of 
the King. When he quotes this passage, however, he omits the word 


copy, so instead of being a “copy of this law,” it reads in the Temple 
Scroll as if it were the Law itself: “When he [the king] sits on the 
throne of his kingdom, they [the priests] shall write for him this law 
in a book from that which is in the charge of the priests.” Then, as if 
to emphasize the point, the Temple Scroll adds: “And this is the 
Law.” The Statutes of the King follow. 

For all these reasons, it seems clear to me that the Temple Scroll was, 
for the Essenes, a holy canonical book on a par, for them, with the 
other books of the Bible. 

In this short chapter, it would be impossible to describe in detail the 
entire contents of the Temple Scroll. The best I can do here is to 
provide a summary. 

The Temple Scroll is above all a book of the Law, laws for the 
community both for the present and for the time when the true heirs 
of the Zadokite priesthood would again reign in Jerusalem. I have 
referred to the long passages relating to the temple, its plan, its 
furniture and utensils, its sacrifices, and other cultic laws. I have also 
referred to the Statutes of the King. Other long sections describe 
various festivals or holy days, many of which are “additional” 
holidays not mentioned in the Bible, such as the New Barley festival, 
the New Wine festival, the New Oil festival (all first-fruits festivals), 
and the Wood Offering festival. Other more familiar festivals whose 
observance is described in the Temple Scroll include the Feast of 
Booths and the Day of Atonement. Sometimes the observances are the 
same as those described in other sources; sometimes they are 
different. Other laws relate to such things as idolatry, vows and 
oaths, pure and impure animals, ritual impurities, and laws of 

I have already mentioned some of the characteristics of the scroll: the 
frequent use of the first person when God speaks, the 
tetragrammaton (when it appears) in the square Aramaic script as in 
other biblical Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Herodian and the Hasmonean 
letter forms that help to date the scroll. Let me allude to a few other 
characteristics of the scroll. 

The author of the scroll is clearly an expert on the text of the 
Pentateuch. He often merges passages from different parts of the 
Bible that deal with the same subject into a single smooth-flowing 
text. Unlike the Bible, the scroll is arranged according to principal 


themes — the temple, the festivals, the Statutes of the King — and it 
brings together disparate Pentateuchal passages bearing on these 

More important, the author often harmonizes and unifies duplicate, 
different, and sometimes even conflicting biblical laws. In case of 
simple duplication, the scroll will combine the two texts by 
contractions and deletions. This approach is in contrast with that of 
the rabbis who taught, “Whenever a scriptural passage is repeated, it 
is because of some new point contained in it” (Babylonian Talmud 
Sota 3a). 

When several biblical passages deal with the same subject but their 
texts contain different, nonconflicting laws, the scroll will combine 
them into a single integrated text. For example, in Deuteronomy 
12:23-24, the people are commanded to refrain from eating blood; it 
must be thrown on the ground like water. In Leviticus 17:13, the 
blood is to be covered with earth. In the Temple Scroll, the two 
commands are combined: “Blood you shall not eat; you shall pour it 
on the ground like water; and cover it with earth.” 

When there are conflicts in biblical passages, the scroll will often 
harmonize them, sometimes by splitting the difference. 

Perhaps the overriding characteristic of the laws in the Temple Scroll 
is their strictness. I shall discuss here one of the most important 
applications of this principle of strictness. The principle of 
strictness, however, permeates the entire scroll. 

The Pentateuch describes the rules of ritual cleanliness applicable to 
the Israelite camp in the wilderness (e.g. Deuteronomy 23:10-14). 
How are these laws of ritual cleanliness to be applied after the 
wilderness tabernacle has been replaced by the Jerusalem Temple and 
the wilderness camp by the city of Jerusalem? In the approach taken 
by normative Judaism, the rabbis ruled that the Holy City of 
Jerusalem was to be divided into three different camps: the Temple 
proper (the Divine camp), the area surrounding the Temple (the 
Levitical camp), and the rest of the city (the Israelite camp). 
According to rabbinical interpretation, the harshest bans are 
applicable only to the Temple proper, the less harsh are applicable to 
the area surrounding the Temple, and the remainder are applicable to 
the entire city. To achieve this tripartite division, the rabbis gave 
different interpretations to different occurrences of the word camp in 


the biblical text. But these interpretations were not suggested by the 
text itself. The rabbis applied them in order to ameliorate the 
harshness that would result if all the restrictions applicable to the 
wilderness camp were applied uniformly to the entire city of 
Jerusalem — indeed to other cities as well. The rabbis who resorted to 
this tripartite division of restrictions by interpreting camp in three 
different ways were — if you wish — the “Reform Jews” of their day 
in comparison to the Essenes. 

The Essenes, as we learn from the Temple Scroll, would have none of 
this. For them, the City of the Temple (Jerusalem) was equated with 

the camp where the tabernacle was kept in the wilderness. All the 
laws and bans applicable to the wilderness camp were applicable to 
the entire city of Jerusalem. (In some cases, the camp is equated with 
any city, and the bans are applicable to all cities.) 

We would consider some of the results quite bizarre. For example, in 
Deuteronomy 23:12-14, we are told there is to be a place outside the 
camp in the wilderness for defecation. The Essenes applied this 
injunction literally to the entire city of Jerusalem. The Temple Scroll 
forbids the building of toilets in the city. “You shall make a place for 
the hand (a toilet) outside the city to which they shall go out . . . 
3,000 cubits [outside the city] in order that it will not be visible from 
the city.” 

A similar rule is found in another Dead Sea Scroll known as the War 
Scroll. Because three thousand cubits is beyond the limit of 
permitted walking on the Sabbath, Essenes who lived in Jerusalem 
could not walk to the latrines on the seventh day — and they therefore 
refrained from relieving themselves on the Sabbath. 

Interestingly enough, Josephus, the first-century Jewish historian 
who in his youth lived among the Essenes, confirms that they 
observed these rules — defecating only outside their settlement and 
refraining from defecation on the Sabbath. Josephus also describes a 
city gate in Jerusalem, mentioned nowhere else, that he calls the 
Essene Gate. This may well be the colloquial name for the gate the 
Essenes used to go out (or rather, to run out) of the city to relieve 
themselves. Since the Temple Scroll prescribes the building of public 
toilets “northwest of the city,” this reference provides an important 
clue as to the location of the Essene Gate. Josephus mentions that 
near the Essene Gate was a place called Betsoa, which is obviously 


Beth-Soah in Hebrew, i.e., a lavatory. 

The Essenes applied other bans to the entire city of Jerusalem, 
according to their interpretation of the biblical rules of purity related 
to the camp. Thus all sexual relations were banned in the city of 
Jerusalem. (This may perhaps explain the fact that the Essenes were 
celibate. Moreover, this may be the origin of celibacy as a doctrine.) 
People afflicted with impurity were forbidden from entering 
Jerusalem and were confined instead to specially built structures east 
of the city. 

The Dead Sea Scrolls are without doubt one of the most important 
discoveries, if not the most important discovery, for biblical studies 
ever made in the Holy Land. Their discovery created shock waves 
among scholars. To change the metaphor, it was as if a powerful 
telescope with a zoom lens suddenly brought the world of Judaism at 
the end of the Second Temple period into immediate focus across a 
barrier of two thousand years. This period was both a tragic turning 
point in Jewish history — the Romans destroyed the Temple in 70 
A.D. — and the cradle in which Christianity was born and began to 
grow. The Temple Scroll, like the previously discovered Dead Sea 
Scrolls, will no doubt be scrutinized by generations of scholars in 
order to illuminate this critical period in the history of Judaism as 
well as Christianity. 

Since we cannot consider here even a fraction of the problems and 
insights contained in the Temple Scroll (many of which are discussed 
in my scientific edition of the scroll), what I would like to do is give 
a few examples of the way scholars might be using the Temple Scroll 
to broaden and enrich our understanding of the New Testament and 


early Christianity. 

I have just discussed how strictly the scroll interprets biblical laws. I 
mentioned the bans on entering the Holy City of Jerusalem, which 
the Temple Scroll equates with the Tabernacle camp in the 
wilderness. One of the locations in which the banned were to be 
isolated may give us a clearer picture of the nature of the place 
where Jesus stayed, at the house of Simon the Leper, before he 
entered Jerusalem (Mark 14:3; Matthew 26:6). 

The Temple Scroll, of course, bans all lepers from Jerusalem, just as 
lepers were banned from the Israelite camp in the wilderness. As 


noted above, we are told (in column XLVI): “And you shall make 
three places east of the city . . . into which shall come the lepers and 
the people who have a discharge and the men who have had a 
(nocturnal) emission.” 

From this and a similar passage, we learn that the lepers must have 
been confined in a separate place east of the city. We know from the 

Midrash that at this time it was thought leprosy was carried by the 
wind. The prevailing wind in Jerusalem is westerly — from west to 
east. Therefore, the rabbis prohibited walking east of a leper. 
According to the Temple Scroll, lepers were placed in a colony east of 
the city to avoid the westerly wind’s carrying the disease into the 
city. In my view, Bethany (east of Jerusalem on the eastern slope of 
the Mount of Olives) was a village of lepers. Thus, it was not that 
Jesus just happened to stay in the house of a leper (Simon) before he 
entered Jerusalem; he deliberately chose a village of lepers. This 
deliberate choice would have compounded the offense — entering 
Jerusalem after contact with lepers — in the eyes not only of the 
Essenes but of the Pharisees as well. 

From the doctrinal viewpoint, the influence of the Essenes on early 
Christianity, as has been noted by various scholars, is more 
complicated. We must distinguish between the various layers, or 
strata, to use an archaeological term, of early Christianity. The 
theology, the doctrines, and the practices of Jesus, John the Baptist, 
and Paul, for example, are not the same. The Dead Sea Scrolls shed 
new light on these differences. 

The similarity between the sectarian doctrines reflected in the Dead 
Sea Scrolls and in early Christianity were, of course, noted 
immediately after their discovery. Indeed, one of the chief surprises 
of the Dead Sea Scrolls for some Christians was that some of what 
were previously thought to be innovative Christian doctrines and 
practices were in fact known to the Essenes one hundred or two 
hundred years before Jesus’ time. 

But these facts must be related to different sources of Christian 
doctrine. Jesus himself was, in my opinion, quite anti-Essene, as he 
was anti-Pharisee. Jesus reacted against the strict insistence on ritual 
purity practiced not only by the Pharisees but even more so by the 


Indeed, there may well be an anti-Essene reference in the Sermon on 
the Mount, as was already noted by the Austrian scholar Kurt 
Schubert. Jesus there says to the multitude, “You have heard it said . 

. . hate thine enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies” (Matthew 
5:43-44). This passage is somewhat of an enigma. Who is it that has 
said, “Hate your enemy”? We are not told. There is no such doctrine 
in any Jewish writing. But, as Schubert has shown, in one of the 
basic texts of the Qumran community called the Manual of 
Discipline, new members of the sect swear an oath of allegiance to 
love the Sons of Light (that is, the members of the Essene 
community) and to hate for all eternity the Sons of Darkness. The 
reference in the Sermon on the Mount to those who advise hating 
your enemies may well be to the Essenes and would thus reflect 
Jesus’ own anti-Essene stance. 

Another enigmatic passage from the New Testament, Mark 8:14-21, 
may be clarified by the Temple Scroll itself and, as we shall see, in a 
manner that reflects Jesus’ anti-Essene position. In the pericope from 
Mark, Jesus is in a boat on the Sea of Galilee, with only a single loaf 
of bread. He cautions his disciples, “Beware of the leaven of the 
Pharisees and the leaven of the Herodians.” The disciples are 
concerned at the lack of bread. Jesus berates them: “Having eyes do 
you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you 
remember?” Jesus recalls for them the miracle of the multiplication 
of the bread: 

“When I broke the five loaves for the 5,000, how many baskets full of 
broken pieces did you take up?” 

They said to him, “Twelve.” 

“And the seven for the 4,000, how many baskets full of broken pieces did 
you take up?” 

And they said to him, “Seven.” 

And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?” 

Modern readers have no less difficulty understanding. The passage is 
full of obscurities. But the Temple Scroll may help us penetrate some 
of the cruxes: Who were the Herodians and what is the significance 
of the twelve baskets full of pieces and the seven baskets full of 
pieces? And why were the disciples supposed to infer that these 


baskets full of pieces were an allusion to the bread of the Pharisees 
and the bread of the Herodians? 

I previously referred to the many “new” or additional festivals 
referred to in the Temple Scroll. These were observed by the Essenes 
but not by normative Jews. One of these additional festivals I did not 
mention was the annual seven-day celebration known as the Days of 
the Ordination (or consecration) of the Priests. This celebration is 
patterned on the seven-day consecration ceremony Moses performed 
on Aaron and his sons when they became priests of the Lord in the 
wilderness, as described in Leviticus 8. For normative Judaism, this 
ordination of the priests was a onetime act. No new consecration or 
ordination ceremony of this kind was performed on Aaron’s 
descendants. For the Essenes, who ruled by the Temple Scroll, 
however, this was a yearly ceremony. It was to be performed 
annually, forever. So the Temple Scroll tells us. The role of Moses was 
to be taken by the Fligh Priest. When the Fligh Priest himself was to 
be consecrated, the role of Moses was to be performed by the priestly 
Elders. The details of the ordination ceremony are spelled out in great 
detail in the Temple Scroll. They are quite complicated, but here we 
need focus only on one aspect. Leviticus (8:2) speaks of one basket of 
bread used for the offering on each of the seven days of the 
ceremony. In the Temple Scroll, however, there are seven baskets of 
bread, one for each day. Indeed, it appears from the Temple Scroll 
that the Essenes had a special ceremony connected with the seven 
baskets of bread, although they could not then offer the full sacrifice 
at the Jerusalem Temple because it was not built according to their 
plan; it was not pure according to their laws, and the priests were not 
legitimate according to their view. 

Now let us return to the passage in Mark. Jesus tells his disciples to 
beware of the bread of the Pharisees and the Herodians. He then 
refers to the miracle of the twelve baskets of bread and the seven 
baskets of bread. The twelve baskets, I think, alludes to the Pharisees 
who controlled the Jerusalem Temple. Each week the priests ate the 
twelve loaves of the presence (Leviticus 24:5-9). In effect Jesus is 
saying, Do not concern yourself with the twelve loaves in the 
Pharisaic Temple; I created twelve baskets of bread for you. 

But what of the seven loaves of the Herodians? What does this allude 
to? In my view, this refers to the seven loaves the Essenes used in the 
annual seven-day ceremony of the ordination of the priests. Jesus is 
telling the disciples not to concern themselves with the Essenes 


either. Jesus miraculously creates the seven baskets of bread of the 
Essenes, as well as the twelve baskets of bread of the Pharisees. 

But, you may say, the passage from Mark refers to the seven baskets 
of the Herodians, not the seven baskets of the Essenes. I believe when 
Jesus refers to the Herodians, he really means the Essenes. I suspect 
that the Essenes had the nickname “Herodians.” Josephus (Jewish 
Antiquities 15:372-379) tells us that Herod was in effect the protector 
of the Essenes and showed special kindness to them. The suggestion 
that the Herodians mentioned in Mark, and elsewhere, refer to the 
Essenes has been made before, but now, from the Temple Scroll, we 
have considerable evidence for the similarity between Essene beliefs 
and Herodian beliefs, which strengthens the identification of the 
Herodians with the Essenes. 

Perhaps we can now reply more intelligently to the question Jesus 
asks: “Do you not yet understand?” Jesus rejects the strict 
interpretation of the Essenes, as well as the Pharisees. Thus, here 
again we see Jesus taking an anti-Essene stand. 

John the Baptist’s relationship to the Essenes is quite different from 
Jesus’. John may even have been a member of the Essene 
community. He was active in the area around Qumran; he, like the 
Essene community at Qumran, was celibate; and he was from a 
priestly family. Moreover, the type of baptism he was preaching, 
which gave John his name, was also practiced by the Essenes. We 
know that the Essenes practiced baptism not only from their 
literature but also from the baptismal installations found at Qumran. 

These baptismal installations are quite different from the ritual baths 
(mikvaot) of the period found, for example, at Masada, in the Jericho 
area, and in Jerusalem. The normative Judaism ritual baths had to 
contain “living” water; that is, water either from the rain or from a 
flowing stream or river. Since this was not available year-round, 
especially in the desert, ritually pure water was saved and preserved 
in a reserve pool adjacent to the ritual bath. A channel led from the 
reserve pool to the bath pool so that a small amount of the living 
water would be added to each bath to purify it, so to say. The Jewish 
ritual baths are characterized by these twin pools. At Qumran, 
however, there is only a single pool (with steps) in which people 
could be baptized. 

Baptism as we know it in early Christianity may have been adopted 


under Essene influence through John the Baptist. 

But the most often noted similarities between Christianity and Essene 
doctrine came not from John the Baptist, and certainly not from 
Jesus. The principal similarities are to be found in the Pauline 
Epistles and in the Johannine literature. Plow do we explain these 
similarities — such things as the dualism found both in the New 
Testament and in the writings of the Dead Sea sect, the contrast 
between the Sons of Darkness and the Sons of Light (a term often 
used in the Pauline literature), the spirit and the flesh, good and evil? 
The communal meal is also something we find in early Christianity 
and in the Dead Sea sect. It is my belief that these similarities came 
through Paul. 

Paul was himself a Pharisee before his conversion on the road to 
Damascus, but he surely knew well the doctrines of all the sects he 
was persecuting, including the Essenes. Paul became the apostle to 
the Gentiles. He was attempting insofar as possible to avoid the 
burden of the Mosaic law for those whom he converted and who 
found the Mosaic law an obstacle to their new allegiance. Paul’s 
problem was how to be a Jew without the restrictions of the Mosaic 
law. I think he found a ready-made theology in many respects in the 
doctrines of the Essenes. For the Essenes, like early Christians (but 
for different reasons), rejected the Jerusalem Temple and its cult: In 
my view, the striking similarities between early Christianity and the 
doctrines of the Essenes entered Christianity after Jesus’ time via 
Paul in the period before the Romans destroyed the Jerusalem 
Temple in 70 A.D. (and Qumran, for that matter). 

Yet there is a paradox here: How can it be that a sect (the Essenes) 
that adhered so tenaciously to the strictest and most legalistic 
interpretation of all the minutiae of the Law of Moses as prescribed 
in the Torah could influence — of all sects — the one (Christianity) that 
in due course essentially rejected this Law, especially those parts of 
the Law concerned with Temple observance and ritual purity? 

The complete answer is no doubt more complicated than the 
following hesitant outline suggests, but it is in this area that I believe 
the answer to our paradox is to be found. As I have said, the early 
Christians came into contact with the Essenes and were influenced by 
them at a time late in Essene history (first century A.D.). They met 
Essenes who maintained their own calendar and repudiated the 
Jerusalem Temple as well as its laws, for reasons mentioned. Thus 


bereft of a legitimate temple, the Essenes developed a theology and 
religious practice that enabled them to live without this cultic 
institution, especially at their own monastic centers such as Qumran 
in the wilderness. The following paraphrase of Proverbs 15:8 from an 
Essene document could have appealed to circles of Pauline or 
Johannine Christianity: “The sacrifice of the wicked is an 
abomination, but the prayer of the just is an agreeable offering” 
(Damascus Document 11:20-21). 

The Essenes’ rejection of the Jerusalem Temple and its cult, like that 
of the early Christians, permitted the Essenes to influence the early 
Christians. Without a temple, the Essenes developed a way of life 
that was a kind of substitute for the temple and the worship in it. It 
was this way of life and the theology it reflected that appealed to and 
influenced the early Christians. 

For the Essenes, however, the rejection of the Temple was temporary. 
For them, the Jerusalem priests were illegitimate and the Temple 
polluted because their own rigid legal interpretations of the Law 
were not applied; even its plan was a wrong one. For the Essenes, the 
temporary, substitute way of life was applicable only until “the 
exiles of the Sons of Light return from the Wilderness of the Nations 
to encamp in the Wilderness of Jerusalem” (War Scroll 3). 

What was a temporary substitute for the Essenes, Christianity 
adopted as a permanent theology, part of their fixed and final canon. 
In short, what was for the Essenes an ad hoc adaptation to their 
rejection of the Jerusalem priesthood and Temple, applicable only 
until the end of days when the Temple would be rebuilt by God 
according to their own beliefs, became for Christianity a permanent 
solution. Thus evolved the historical paradox by which the early 
Christians could be so heavily influenced by a legalistic sect, despite 
the fact that Christianity itself rejected this legalism. 

Let me conclude simply with a few puzzles in the history of 
Christianity for which the Temple Scroll might provide the hint of a 

Of course, even before the acquisition of the Temple Scroll, we knew 
about the solar calendar used by the Essenes, which contrasted with 
the lunar calendar practiced by normative Judaism. The Essenes’ 
solar calendar was divided into four sections consisting of three 
thirty-day months, plus one additional day. Thus, the Essene year 


contained 364 days, divided into twelve thirty-day months, plus four 
intercalated days inserted at the end of each three-month group. (In 
the course of years, this calendar would need additional intercalated 
days — or leap years — to maintain the same seasons, but we have no 
information, for the time being, on how the Essenes did this.) Using 
this calendar, however, results in holidays always falling on the same 
day of the week. 

I have already mentioned the many “new” — or previously unknown 
— holidays described in the Temple Scroll, including three new (and 
one well-established) “first fruits” festivals. The Essenes reckoned the 
date on which each of these festivals began by counting fifty days 
after a particular Sabbath (counting the day of the preceding festival 
as the first day of the new counting), with the result that these 
festivals always began on a Sunday. Sunday thus begins to appear as a 
most important day. 

In the Statutes of the King, the Temple Scroll considers restrictions 
on the king’s marriages. Rabbinic Judaism interpreted Deuteronomy 
17:17 to restrict the king to eighteen wives. This was based in part on 
the fact that King David had eighteen wives. 

In contrast, the Temple Scroll provides: 

“ [The King] shall not take another wife, for she [his first wife] alone 
shall be with him all the days of her life. But should she die, he may 
take unto himself another wife.” Here we have a clear-cut ruling 
against bigamy and divorce, the earliest such ruling in any extant 
Jewish writing. This may well have been a forerunner of Christian 
doctrine on these subjects. 

I have raised more questions than I have answered. But the scholarly 
riches of the Temple Scroll have just begun to be mined. 



“. . . I will consecrate my temple by my glory ... on the day of 
blessing ... I will create my temple and establish it for myself for all 


times ...” (Column XXIX). 

“You shall make a dry moat around the temple, . . . which will 
separate the holy temple from the city so that they may not come 
suddenly into my temple and desecrate it. They shall consecrate my 
temple and fear my people, for I dwell among them” (Column XLVI). 

The cardinal prescription of the scroll is that there shall be three 

square courts around the temple: inner, middle, and outer. To 
ensure the purity of the temple and its courts, the scroll ordains two 
additional precautions: an inner wall (dotted line) to be erected 
around the temple within the inner court, and, around the outer 
court, a fosse (moat) is to be made. 

The inner court will have four gates, oriented to the four points of 
the compass. The middle and outer courts each will have twelve 
gates named after Jacob’s twelve sons and assigned in the same order 
around each court. The outer court will be divided into sixteen 
chamber areas, eleven allotted to eleven tribes (excluding Levi, from 
whom the Levites are descended); three to the three sons of Levi — 
Gershon, Kohath, and Merari (the Levitical families); and two to the 
sons of Aaron (the priests). 

Precise dimensions for the inner court gates are given: the entrances 
are to be fourteen cubits wide (a cubit is about one and a half feet) 
and twenty-eight cubits high from threshold to lintel, with another 
fourteen cubits from lintel to ceiling. Other dimensions given in the 
scroll are similarly exact. 






200 cubits 

19. Plan of visionary temple and courts described in the Temple Scroll 

Yigael Yadin, The Temple Scroll (Israel Exploration Society, 1983) 

Lining the inner court stoa, described in column XXXVII of the scroll, 
are “s[i]tting pl[a]ces for the priests, and tables in front of the sitting 
places.” The scroll author explicitly refers to these tables to 
emphasize the separation between priests and laity, “so that [there 
shall be] no mixing of the sacrifices of the peace offerings of the 
children of Israel with the sacrifices of the priests.” 

The scroll tells us there are to be “cooking places,” kitchens, on either 
side of each gate. “In the four angles of the court,” the scroll 
continues, there are to be places for stoves “in which they [the 
priests] shall boil their sacrifices [and] the sin offerings.” 


The structures to be found within the inner wall of the inner court 
are described in the scroll in minute detail. They include the temple’s 
furnishings, such as the cherubim, the golden veil, and the lamp 
stand (menorah). 

The staircase, next to the temple, is to be square-shaped, twenty 
cubits on a side, and located seven cubits from the northwest side of 
the heikhal, or temple building. This would be an extraordinary 
structure — forty cubits high, ascending to the roof of the temple, and 
completely plated with gold! 

In the house of the laver, the priests would wash themselves and 
then put on their holy garments, which were to be kept in gold- 
plated niches in this structure. The house was to be “square on all its 
sides one and twenty cubits, at a distance of fifty cubits from the 

The commands for the house of utensils list the following altar 
utensils: basin, flagons, firepans, and silver bowls. Even the function 
of the bowls is defined: “with which one brings up the entrails and 
the legs on the altar.” 

The twelve columns with ceiling constituted the Temple’s 
slaughterhouse. Here the sacrificial animal’s head would be shackled 
by a ring embedded in a wooden column. Because of the Hebrew 
phrase denoting that roofing is used for this structure, we can 
assume that it would have either low outer walls or none at all. 

To the west of the heikhal, there is to be made “a stoa of standing 
columns for the sin offering and the guilt offering.” The columns of 
the stoa are to be “separated from one another: for the sin offering of 
the priests and for the male goats and for the sin offerings of the 
people and for their guilt offerings.” To make the separation between 
priests and laity absolutely clear, the scroll author adds, “for their 
place shall be separated from one another so that the priests may not 
err with the sin offering of the people.” 

The altar itself is mentioned several times, but this portion of the 
scroll is so badly damaged that commands for the altar’s construction 
are fragmentary at best. We can understand, however, that the great 
altar of burnt offering was to be built of stone, with a ledge, corner, 
and horns, and that one of its dimensions was to be twenty cubits. 


* Sec Chapter 9. 

tSee Chapter 1. 

*1 am still keeping his confidence, however, by not revealing his name. I 
want all these people — whether they are robbers or not (and it is a 
cloak-and-dagger business) — to know that as far as I am concerned, if 
they tell me not to reveal their identities, I won’t. Otherwise, we have 
no chance of getting more scrolls. And I believe there still might be 
another scroll or some fragments here or there. For the same reason, I 
don’t call the dealer by name, even though many know who he is. 

*The first five books of the Bible, called in Hebrew translation the Torah 
of Moses. 

*The tetragrammaton is the ineffable and unpronounced name of God, 
consisting of the four consonants YHWH, often transcribed in English 
literature as Yahweh. 

t Although Moses is never mentioned by name in the existing columns of 
the scroll, it is clear that God is speaking to Moses, as we know, for 
example, by a reference to “Aaron your brother” (column XLIV, line 

*See Chapter 8 for a description of this temple. 

*This is apparently spelled out in a still -unpublished letter from Qumran 
that, according to the editors, was sent by the Teacher of 
Righteousness himself. The letter is to be published by John Strugnell 
and Elisha Qimron. See “Jerusalem Rolls Out Red Carpet for Biblical 
Archaeology Congress,” Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August 
1984, pp. 12-18. 

*The literature on the Essene-Christian relationship is vast; some of the 
very best discussions are contained in K. Stendahl, ed., The Scrolls 
and the New Testament (New York: Harper & Row, 1957). 

*An early collection of Jewish elaborations on scripture. 

*See2 Chronicles 33:5; 1 Kings 6:36; 7:12; 2 Kings 20:4; Ezekiel 40-44. 





Magen Broshi is curator of the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem 
where Israel’s intact Dead Sea Scrolls are housed. In this short 
chapter, Broshi calls attention to the enormous size of the temple 
envisioned in the Temple Scroll, hardly a practical possibility. 


In the previous chapter Yigael Yadin described the contents of the 
Temple Scroll. I would like to make one additional point relating to 
the size of the temple envisioned in it. 

Of five major subjects dealt with in the scroll, the foremost is the 
temple, its design and the ordinances pertaining to it. This subject 
occupies almost half the length of the scroll; hence the name Yadin 
gave to the scroll (the original name is unknown). 

The temple compound as described in the scroll consists of three 
concentric square courts — the inner court, the middle court, and the 
outer court. In the midst of the inner court would stand the temple 
and the various buildings connected with it. 

Clearly, this was not the temple that existed when the scroll was 
written. Although the date of the scroll’s composition is still an open 


question it was certainly composed at least a century before Herod 
the Great began rebuilding the Temple at the end of the first century 
B.C. The temple described in the Temple Scroll obviously does not 
refer to the Temple that existed in Herod’s time. Nor does it refer to 
the temple to be built by the Lord at the end of days. Instead, it refers 
to a man-made edifice, to be constructed on terra firma according to 
the author’s own conception. As would be the case with Herod’s 
temple, the greatest effort was to be expended on the temple courts. 

The Temple ScroE Temple and Its Courts 

20. The visionary temple with its courts described in the Temple ScroE is nearly 
the same size as the waEed Old City of Jerusalem. 

Leen Ritmeyer 

When Herod rebuilt the Second Temple, the temple proper was 


completed in seventeen months and the porticoes in eight years. 
The completion of the whole compound, however, lasted, with 
intervals, for some eighty years. Only under the procurator Albinus 
(62-64 A.D.) were the “works” of the temple (that is, the gigantic 
esplanade) finished. At that time, eighteen thousand laborers were 

laid off. This was only a few years before the Great Revolt, the First 
Jewish Revolt, against Rome (which broke out in 66 A.D.). The mass 
unemployment caused by the completion of the temple works may 
well have caused considerable social unrest, which undoubtedly 
would have contributed to the out-break of the revolt. 

By comparison with the temple described in the Temple Scroll, the 
Herodian Temple was a miniature. Let us look at the size of the 
gigantic temple compound described in the Temple Scroll. 

The square outer court would be sixteen hundred cubits on a side. 

This is about twenty-five hundred feet, or half a mile, on a side. The 
total area of the temple compound would be 160 acres. In 
comparison, Herod’s Temple compound (which was the largest 
artificial esplanade in antiquity) was only about a quarter as big. In 
addition, the temple described in the Temple Scroll would be 
surrounded by a moat 100 cubits (165 feet) wide. The total area of 
the temple compound described in the Temple Scroll was, 
coincidentally, precisely the size of Jerusalem in the second century 

B.C. 5 

The outer court of the temple would stretch all the way from the 
present-day Damascus Gate in the west to the slopes of the Mount of 
Olives in the east. 

To build the complex described in the Temple Scroll would require 
solving serious topographical problems. Creating a level space on 
which to build this gigantic project would require as much work as 
the building project itself. Leveling the ground would require filling 
in the Kidron Valley (to raise it about 250 feet) on the east and 
quarrying rock on the west. This would have meant removal of 
millions of tons of soil and rock, all by human muscle. A feasible feat, 
I suppose, but extremely impractical. But after all, practicality was 
not the Dead Sea sect’s forte. 

*See Chapter 10. 





If the first chapter in this book provides the opening drama, this 
chapter provides the comic relief. It gives a different perspective 
on Yigael Yadin’s acquisition of the Temple Scroll. 

In Chapter 7, Yadin describes his dealings with a supposedly 
disreputable Virginia clergyman who, he claims, snookered him 
out of $10,000. Yadin identifies the clergyman only as Mr. Z. 

When Mr. Z’s wife read this article in a Florida church library, she 
showed it to her husband. He then contacted Biblical Archaeology 
Review editor Hershel Shanks and told his side of the story— very 
different from Yadin’s. 


Were it not for the efforts of the man who got Jerry Falwell started in 
television, the famous Dead Sea Scroll known as the Temple Scroll 
might never have come to light. 

At least that is the story according to Reverend Joe Uhrig, now 
semiretired and living in Florida. 

Yigael Yadin, Israel’s foremost biblical archaeologist before his death 
in 1984, tells a somewhat different story. In Chapter 7 (as well as in 

his magisterial, three-volume edition of The Temple Scroll ) Yadin 
describes how he first learned of the Temple Scroll, a scroll that he 


identifies as the Torah (or Bible) of the Essene community of Jews 
that lived near the Dead Sea at the time of Jesus. 

The existence of the scroll was first brought to Yadin’s attention by a 
man he identifies only as Mr. Z. Mr. Z presented himself to Yadin as a 
Virginia clergyman. Yadin, however, had his doubts. From Yadin’s 
perspective, Mr. Z did him out of $10,000; Yadin didn’t trust Mr. Z 
or anything he said. Nevertheless, the Israeli archaeologist steadfastly 
refused to disclose Mr. Z’s identity. Yadin explained: 

“I am still keeping his confidence, however, by not revealing his 
name. I want all these people — whether they were robbers or not 
(and it is a cloak-and-dagger business) — to know that as far as I am 
concerned, if they tell me not to reveal their identities, I won’t. 
Otherwise, we have no chance of getting more scrolls.” Yadin died 
without ever revealing Mr. Z’s identity. 

According to Yadin, Mr. Z first wrote him on August 1, 1960, offering 
to negotiate the sale of “important, authentic discoveries of Dead Sea 
Scrolls.” Mr. Z’s source was a well-known Jordanian antiquities 

On October 7, 1960, Yadin purchased from, or through, Mr. Z a small 
fragment of another Dead Sea Scroll known as the Psalms Scroll. As a 
result, Yadin knew that Mr. Z had access to authentic scroll materials. 

On May 29, 1961, Mr. Z again wrote Yadin, this time saying he had 
for sale not a fragment, but an entire scroll. In subsequent 
correspondence, Mr. Z asserted the scroll was between fifteen and 
eighteen feet long, and he even supplied a small fragment that had 
broken off from the scroll. Yadin saw immediately that it was 

Frustrating negotiations concerning the price extended over several 
months. Every time Yadin thought the asking price was within 
reach, it went wildly up again. At one point, Yadin thought a deal had 
been struck for $130,000. A $10,000 down payment was given to Mr. 
Z in New York, plus $1,500 for Mr. Z’s transportation to Bethlehem, 
supposedly necessary to get the Bethlehem dealer’s agreement. At 
that time, Mr. Z once again gave Yadin the fragment from the scroll 
that Yadin had previously returned. 

Mr. Z went to Bethlehem and reported that difficulties had arisen: 


The price had gone up again. Further correspondence ensued in 
which Mr. Z pleaded for more money, and Yadin tried to get back his 
$10,000. But it was gone for good. “It was plain,” Yadin wrote, “that 
Mr. Z had no intention of returning the advance.” Yadin’s efforts to 
get the money back were entirely “futile.” 

21. Yigael Yadin. 
Richard Nowitz 


22. Joe Uhrig, aka Mr. Z. 

Joseph Uhrig 

In mid-1962, Yadin heard from Mr. Z for the last time. Mr. Z again 


made “promises” and again pleaded for more money. Then silence. 
“Every trace of him has disappeared,” Yadin reported. 

On June 7, 1967, the Israeli army captured the Old City of Jerusalem 
and Bethlehem. The next day Yadin arranged for an army officer to go 
to the Bethlehem dealer’s home and claim the scroll he had learned 
about six years earlier from Mr. Z. That night, the delighted 
archaeologist held the Temple Scroll in his hands for the first time. It 
turned out to be the longest relatively intact Dead Sea Scroll ever 
discovered, nearly twenty-seven feet long. 

The scroll contains long passages from the Pentateuch, but with 
variations in language from the canonical text that has come down to 
us. According to Yadin, the Temple Scroll also includes excerpts from 
some books referred to in the Bible, but now lost. The scroll contains 

detailed plans for the building of the Lord’s temple ; hence its name, 
the Temple Scroll. It also contains many other laws as well as 
descriptions of religious festivals not mentioned in the Bible or 
elsewhere. Many scholars consider it the most important Dead Sea 
Scroll ever discovered, with significant potential for illuminating 
early Christianity as well as contemporaneous Judaism. 

But even according to Yadin’s account, if it had not been for Mr. Z, 
the Temple Scroll might still be deteriorating in a shoe box under the 
floor tiles of the Bethlehem dealer’s home. According to Yadin, the 
dealer “had kept the scroll under dreadful conditions that caused 
extensive damage, especially to the upper part of the scroll.” We shall 
never know how much of the scroll became illegible in the period 
between 1962, when negotiations broke off with Mr. Z, and 1967, 
when Israel confiscated the scroll. But even more of the scroll would 
have become illegible if Mr. Z had not alerted Yadin to its existence 
and it had continued to rot under the Bethlehem dealer’s floor. 

Yadin published his three-volume Hebrew edition of The Temple 
Scroll in 1977. Six years later, in 1983, the English edition appeared. 
In connection with the publication of the English edition, Yadin 
prepared a popular article for Biblical Archaeology Review. The 
article was published in the September/October 1984 issue, two 
months after Yadin’s death. 

In the winter of 1984-1985, Doris Uhrig, the wife of a semiretired 
minister named Joe Uhrig, was browsing through the library of the 


Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. There 
she saw the September/October 1984 BAR, with Yadin’s story about 
the Temple Scroll and an announcement of Yadin’s death. She 
thought her husband might be interested in seeing the magazine, so 
she brought it home to him. Rev. Uhrig read the article and 
immediately recognized himself as Mr. Z! 

For the first time, Joe Uhrig learned what had happened to the scroll 
material he had tried to acquire for Israel. For the first time, he also 
learned of the death of Yigael Yadin. 

Yadin’s account of his dealings with Mr. Z also made Uhrig realize 
that the archaeologist had been less than truthful with him about the 
nature of the scroll material whose sale he was trying to negotiate. 
But for Yadin’s having misled him about the scroll, Uhrig claims he 
might well have been able to acquire it at a time when additional 
portions of the scroll were still legible. However, Uhrig holds no 
animosity toward Yadin. 

Uhrig became involved with the Dead Sea Scrolls in a roundabout 
way, as a result of a trip to the Holy Land. He was one of the first TV 
evangelists — and one of the most successful. In the 1950s, he had a 
higher Neilsen rating than Meet the Press. He could fill Constitution 
Hall in Washington, D.C., and was invited to the White House by 
President Eisenhower. Called Hand to Heaven, Uhrig’s television 
program featured such guest celebrities as Roy Rogers and Dale Evans 
and a choir with nationally famous soloists. 

Uhrig felt he really should see the Holy Land. So in 1955, he made 
the grand tour, starting in Beirut, then going to Jordan, and finally 
crossing the border to Israel. At the Beirut airport, he was met by 
Marcos Hazou, a guide his travel agent had arranged. It was a 
successful trip, partly thanks to the rapport he established with 
Hazou. The next year, Uhrig received a letter from Hazou asking if 
Uhrig would sponsor him, his wife, and his two daughters to 
immigrate to the United States. 

Not fully realizing the financial obligation of sponsorship, Uhrig said 
yes. Hazou and his family arrived on Thanksgiving Day, 1956. Uhrig 
rented a house for them, bought them food and a houseful of 
furniture, and employed Hazou in his mail room. In the end, it 
worked out well all around. Hazou was a faithful employee and later 
became a travel agent on his own. 


In 1960, the grateful Hazou told Uhrig that his brother Aboud, who 
lived in Bethlehem, had a friend named Khalil Iskander Shahin. They 
called him Kando. Kando had some ancient manuscripts that came 
from the Dead Sea Scroll caves. In fact, Kando had served as the 
intermediary with the Bedouin and had brokered the sale of the 
famous Dead Sea Scrolls. By trade, Kando was a cobbler with a shop 
on Manger Square. 

According to Uhrig, he told Hazou, “Whatever Kando has belongs to 
Israel. Maybe something can be worked out to get them into Israel.” 

Uhrig went to Bethlehem, then under Jordanian control, and stayed 
with Marcos Hazou’s brother, Aboud Hazou, hoping to track down 
the scrolls. Aboud Hazou and Kando belonged to the same church and 
on Sunday Kando came to Aboud’s house to get acquainted. Later, 
Kando brought a fragment of a scroll to Aboud’s house, a fragment 
that eventually turned out to belong to the famous Psalm Scroll. 

When Uhrig returned to the United States, he telephoned William F. 
Albright, the prominent biblical archaeologist at the Johns Hopkins 
University at Baltimore, who had been one of the first scholars to 
authenticate the original Dead Sea Scrolls. Albright warned the 
minister against the many fakes that were floating around, but told 
him his source seemed authentic. Albright suggested that Uhrig 
should try to contact Yadin. 

Uhrig wrote to Yadin and also made many more trips to Bethlehem to 
try to get the scrolls from Kando, telling Kando frankly that the scrolls 
should be in Israel with Yadin. Kando replied that he did not want to 
get into trouble, that he was afraid. Uhrig tried to reassure him. He 
could be trusted, he told Kando; he would keep it quiet; after all, he 
had sponsored Aboud’s brother to come to the United States. “You 
believe in Aboud and his brother,” he said. “This belongs in Israel. 
I’m telling you straight out where it’s going!” 

“What was the use of playing games about it?” Uhrig recounts. 
“Kando had illusions that there would be some multimillionaire in 
the United States.” 

Uhrig agreed to present Kando’s million-dollar asking price to Yadin 
because “I didn’t want to get him [Kando] upset and lose him. So 
that’s the way I left him on the million dollars.” 


When Uhrig wrote Yadin about the million-dollar price, “Yadin wrote 
back to me and said the demand was crazy. Everyone in our circle, 
the Hazous and myself, we started calling Kando ‘Crazy Kando,’ a 
nickname because of his ridiculous demands.” 

On one trip, Uhrig purchased the Psalm Scroll fragment Kando had 
earlier shown him for $2,500. Kando knew the fragment was from 
the Book of Psalms; he had been told that by the head of the 
Jordanian Department of Antiquities. The Virginia clergyman paid 
Kando his asking price for this piece, without haggling, hoping to 
gain his confidence and show that he was a serious buyer, so he 
could get the “main scroll,” which he had not yet seen. Uhrig 
returned home with the fragment, and after a few months, during 
which he kept the Psalm Scroll fragment in a drawer, he decided to 
send it to Yadin to demonstrate that the materials he had access to 
were authentic. So Uhrig simply wrapped the Psalm Scroll fragment 
in a paper napkin, put it in a brown paper envelope, and mailed it to 
Yadin in Jerusalem. Uhrig admits this was “a bit unorthodox, but I 
didn’t know just exactly what it was altogether.” Uhrig did not ask 
for any specific amount from Yadin: “He trusted me and I trusted 
him.” A few weeks later, Uhrig got a letter from Yadin and a check 
for $7,000. 

The rest of the extant Psalm Scroll, into which fit the fragment that 
Uhrig obtained from Kando, had been previously acquired by the 
Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem. Yadin speculated as to where Mr. 
Z had gotten the fragment, before or after the other parts of the 
Psalm Scroll were obtained by the museum. “We shall never know,” 
Yadin wrote. 

Uhrig believes that Kando simply held back this piece when he sold 
the other pieces of the Psalm Scroll to the Rockefeller. “I believe this 
to be [the] correct [explanation] because I asked him [Kando] if he 
had more pieces of this particular scroll, and he said no. He said just 
this one.” 

On one trip to Bethlehem — Uhrig is not sure of his dates and has no 
correspondence to refresh his memory — Kando brought over to 
Aboud’s house, in a shoe box, a tightly wrapped scroll that formed a 
kind of stick nine inches long. The figures Kando talked about 
wanting for the scroll were “wild” and gyrated wildly up and down: a 
million dollars, $750,000, $250,000, back to a million dollars. 


In the meantime, Uhrig was having his own money problems. 
Already in 1958 he had decided to give up some of the outlying 
markets for his television program Hand to Heaven. One such 
location was the station in Lynchburg, Virginia. In those days, to 
broadcast in Lynchburg, you had to rent a coaxial cable to Lynchburg 
from Washington, D.C., where the show originated. The cost of the 
Lynchburg cable became too high in face of the falling returns. 
Instead of closing the show down on Lynchburg Channel 13, Uhrig 
looked for someone locally to take it over. A twenty-four-year-old 
minister had come to one of Uhrig’s meetings in the Armory in 
Lynchburg, and Uhrig had asked him to come forward and offer a 
prayer. According to Uhrig, the young fellow had only a small group 
of thirty-five people; he didn’t even have a church then, but he was 
impressive and energetic, and Uhrig remembered him. When Uhrig 
decided to give up the Lynchburg show, he called the young 
Lynchburg minister to see if he wanted the show. The young 
minister’s name was Jerry Falwell. 

At first Falwell said no, because he had never done anything like that 
and had no experience, but Uhrig persuaded him to try it — and he 
did. In Uhrig’s words, “He was a local guy trying to get started. And 
did he ever get started!” Falwell has never forgotten Uhrig and even 
now acknowledges that it was Uhrig who started him in television. 

But the Lynchburg program was not Uhrig’s only financial drain. He 
had built a new church that had a mortgage on it. He was hoping that 
if he could obtain the scroll for Yadin, Yadin would agree to pay him 
$20,000 that would save his church. 

In the continued negotiations, Yadin decided he would offer $130,000 
for the scroll he had not yet seen. (Uhrig was hoping that the $20,000 
would be in addition to the $130,000.) Yadin writes as if Mr. Z 
assured him that the $130,000 was an agreed price, but according to 
Uhrig that was simply the price Yadin decided to offer. It was an 
offer Uhrig hoped he could get Kando to accept — especially because 
he had spent so much on trips to Bethlehem and badly needed the 
$20,000 he thought Yadin would give him if he successfully 
negotiated the purchase of the scroll. 

Yadin gave Uhrig $10,000 in cash and a deposit slip showing that 
$120,000 had been deposited in the Chase Manhattan bank, so Uhrig 
could assure Kando that $130,000 in cash was available. Thus armed, 
Uhrig traveled to Bethlehem once more, carrying the $10,000 in cash 


in his sock. 

The negotiations in Bethlehem went badly. Uhrig remembers 
throwing the $10,000 in cash at Kando’s feet. Kando had no idea 
what the $120,000 bank deposit represented. “He wanted to see the 
cash. And every time you’d talk to him, he changed his figures,” 
Uhrig remembers. Uhrig tried to persuade Kando to let him take the 
scroll back with him. 

“Now let me take it,” he said. 

“Oh, no, no, no,” Kando replied, according to Uhrig. 

“Well, don’t you trust me now? We’ve made a transaction [the Psalm 
Scroll fragment]. Aboud here you’ve known all your life. I sponsored 
his brother to come to America. You’ve got to believe in me. I’ve 
made all these trips. I’m not kidding you.” 

All to no avail. Uhrig went on: “At that point I was exhausted. The 
Middle East, as you know in those days, the travel was terrible. And I 
was exhausted. And I said [to Kando], ‘Man, please. You’ve got it here 
in a shoe box. You’ve got to trust me. Aboud here is your friend. 
You’ve got to believe it.’ But no, he just wouldn’t do it.” 

Frustrated and angry, Uhrig saw that a small piece of the scroll was 
partially torn. Uhrig finished the job. “I’m the one who tore that 
piece of the scroll,” he confessed. “I saw this piece there and I said, 
‘Kando, I want to show this to Yadin,’ and before he could say 
anything to me — he got very nervous — I pulled it off. And I said, ‘I 
want to take this with me. This is the only way to prove to Yadin 
that this is genuine. He’s got to know what it is.’” 

“In hindsight,” Uhrig admitted, “I was a little naive.” Kando let Uhrig 
take the piece with him. No charge. 

On his way back to the United States, Uhrig stopped in London, 


where Yadin was staying at the time, in order to show the fragment. 
Uhrig remembers that he met Yadin in the apartment of someone 

named Wolfson. When Uhrig handed the fragment to Yadin, Yadin’s 
“eyes popped.” “He looked very calm and relaxed with me, but his 
eyes just popped. Then he said, ‘oh, uh’; he stuttered a little.” 


Yadin handed the fragment back to Uhrig and told him — falsely — that 
it was only a deed to property: “He said, ‘This is a deed to some 
property,’ and he handed it back to me.” 

Yadin said it was very good writing, but he wanted to see the rest of 
the scroll. “But he said, ‘Uhrig, I think you’ve wasted a lot of time.’ 
He seemed to be sympathetic toward me and yet it seemed to me he 
wanted the rest of the scroll.” Uhrig and Yadin agreed that Uhrig 
would continue the negotiations, in order to see what he could do 
with Kando. 

Uhrig contacted Kando once more through Aboud, but the asking 
price, Aboud reported, was once again a million dollars. Uhrig 
responded: “I said, ‘He’s crazy. Tell him to drop dead. What’s the use 
of me going into the hole further for a deed to some land?”’ 

Uhrig lost his stomach for the whole affair and decided to 
discontinue the negotiations: 

“Yadin threw me off completely,” Uhrig claims. “He told me that it 
was a deed to some land. I thought Kando had tricked me. I can 
understand now why Yadin did this, because he didn’t want to pay an 
exorbitant price. But I was heartsick. And I lost heart. I thought: 
What a fool I’ve been. Kando has fooled me.” 

Uhrig not only failed to get the scroll, he also lost his church: The 
mortgage was foreclosed. 

“Nobody ever knew that story,” he told me, “except the local people. 
I was heartsick. To think that I was chasing after a deed to property.” 
Not until he read the story in Biblical Archaeology Review did Joe 
Uhrig realize that in fact he had been negotiating for the real thing — 
the Temple Scroll, the longest of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and, in the 
opinion of many scholars, the most important. 

“If I had known the real truth, I believe I could have delivered the 
scroll,” he said. “I do not hold Yadin responsible in any way. I have 
no ill feeling about it. I think he was doing what diplomatically he 
felt he had to do because of Kando’s crazy demands. But they really 
weren’t my demands.” 

Uhrig went on: “Yadin told me, ‘One day your name will be in the 
Shrine of the Book.’ I told him I didn’t want praise. I just felt the 


scroll should be in Israel. Through it all, I felt we would come out on 
top. But not only did I lose my church, there was all the expense for 
those trips.” Uhrig just kept the $10,000 — “for a portion of all the 
expenses of all those trips I was making” — and mailed Yadin back the 
scroll fragment. 

“So the years passed by, and I never contacted him anymore, because 
I thought: What’s the use? Why should I keep pressing this?” Then 
one day Joe Uhrig’s wife decided to visit the library of the Coral 
Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, near where they lived. 
She picked up the latest issue of BAR. . . . 

* See Chapter 7. 

* Yadin claims he got the fragment in London via a letter from Uhrig. 

Perhaps Uhrig did not leave the fragment with Yadin then, but later 
sent it to him. 

tProbably Leonard Wolfson, whose Wolfson Foundation supported many 
of Yadin’s projects. 



2,500 YEARS? 


In previous chapters we have considered whether the Qumran 
Community were Essenes and whether the sectarian documents in 
the library stored in the caves nearby were Essene literature. 

But no scholar contends that all the documents in the library are 
sectarian documents. For example, the biblical texts cannot be 
considered sectarian. So even those scholars who accept the view 
that the sectarian literature of Qumran is Essene must ask 
themselves whether a particular document is sectarian. 

In this chapter, one of Germany’s most prominent Dead Sea Scroll 
scholars, Hartmut Stegemann, faces this question with regard to 
the famous Temple Scroll Stegemann assumes the majority view 
that the Qumran sectarians were Essene. But he questions whether 
the Temple Scroll is a sectarian — Essene — document. He concludes 
that it is not. He argues that it is, instead, a document from 
another, perhaps more mainstream, Jewish group. 

And what a document ! Stegemann believes it is a lost sixth book of 
the Torah composed of material rejected when the Pentateuch was 
canonized, probably under the influence of Ezra in the fifth 
century B.C. 

This chapter thus brings us face to face with the question of how 


you tell whether or not a Qumran document is sectarian. 
Stegemann develops several criteria — the number of copies in the 
library, whether the document is quoted in other Qumran 
documents, and comparisons in language, style, and content with 
other concededly sectarian documents from Qumran. Stegemann 
concludes that the Temple Scroll is not a sectarian document. 

If it is not, what is it? Stegemann argues that it is a book of the 
Torah, intended to be on a par with Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, 
Numbers, and Deuteronomy and compiled by priest-editors from 
additions and expansions Ezra rejected when he effectively 
canonized the Pentateuch. 


The Temple Scroll is, in my view, clearly the most important of the 
preserved Dead Sea Scrolls. It was composed, I believe, as an addition 
or, still better, a supplement to the Pentateuch, as a sixth book of the 
Torah, on the same level of authority as Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, 
Numbers, and Deuteronomy. 

The twenty-seven-foot-long Temple Scroll — the longest of the 
preserved scrolls — has been brilliantly published with minute 
commentary in a handsome three-volume set by the late Professor 

Yigael Yadin of Hebrew University. His edition of the Temple Scroll 
is the finest publication of any Dead Sea Scroll that has yet appeared, 
a masterpiece that will be the basis for all further work on this 

scroll. ! 

Yadin almost assumed, however, without seriously discussing the 
matter, that the Temple Scroll was a sectarian composition belonging 
to the Jewish group that inhabited the settlement at Qumran near the 
cave where the scroll was found by Bedouin tribesmen. This group, 

by extensive scholarly consensus, : formed part of the Essenes. 

In assuming that the Temple Scroll was an Essene document, Yadin 
has been followed by nearly all scholars who have considered the 
Temple Scroll — until very recently. 

In my view, the Temple Scroll is not an Essene document. It was 


composed by other Jews, Jews in the mainstream of Palestinian 
Judaism in their own time. But it was simply one of the “books,” if I 
may use that term for a scroll, in the Essene library at Qumran, 
hidden like the others in the caves near their settlement. Its 
composition had no specific connection whatsoever with the Essene 
community at Qumran. 

Before explaining the basis for this conclusion, let me set forth 
several fundamental respects in which I agree with Yadin: 

First, the Temple Scroll is, as Yadin emphasized, a Sefer Torah, a 
book of the authoritative religious law, in the strict sense of that 
term. It is not simply a collection of material pertaining to a 
particular area of religious life. 

Second, like the canonical books of the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, 
Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), this Torah, as Yadin also 
emphasized, was believed to have been given by God himself on Mt. 


Third, the text of the Temple Scroll is, in Yadin’s words, an 
“additional” Torah to the Pentateuch, although on the same level as 


the Torah. It is not a Torah superior to the Pentateuch, nor a 
substitute for the Pentateuch. The convincing evidence for this is the 
fact that the Temple Scroll does not cover such subjects as the 
creation of the world (Genesis), the Decalogue (Exodus 20:1-17; 
Deuteronomy 5:6-21), the Aharonite Blessing (Numbers 6:22-27), or 
the Shema (the basic monotheistic affirmation: “Hear, O Israel, the 
Lord our God is one” — Deuteronomy 6:4-9), which were basic to all 
of the various Jewish religious orientations of the Second Temple 
period (515 B.C.-70 A.D.). The Temple Scroll’s author only added 
further materials to the given Pentateuch; he did not render the given 
Pentateuch itself unnecessary or in some way of inferior quality. 

Where I differ with Yadin is in his conclusion that the Temple Scroll 
was a central Torah of the Essene community. Yadin believed that the 
Temple Scroll may even have been written by the Essene 
community’s revered founder, the Teacher of Righteousness himself. 

If the Temple Scroll was indeed the central Torah of the Essene 
community at Qumran, we could expect it to have been widely used 
by this community in all its affairs. But that was not the case. 


Only two copies of the Temple Scroll have been found among the 
approximately eight hundred manuscripts recovered from the eleven 
Qumran caves. One of these copies is Yadin’s Temple Scroll itself, 
which comes from Cave 11 — lying about two kilometers north of the 
central building at Qumran — and which was written about the turn 
of the era. The second copy is a mere fragmentary scroll, also from 
Cave 11, but written about 50 B.C. Not a single copy of the Temple 
Scroll was found in the main library recovered from Cave 4, which 

held fragments of about 580 different manuscripts. 

The Temple Scroll is a very impressive document by its sheer bulk, 
and it may seem natural to attribute great significance to it in 
understanding the Essenes among whom it was found. But we must 
remember that it was only by sheer chance that the main body of this 
large scroll survived, while most of the other Qumran scrolls are very 
fragmentary at best. It may become less impressive within the Essene 
community when we consider the fact that only two copies of it 
were found at Qumran, as compared, for example, with twenty-five 
different copies of Deuteronomy, eighteen of Isaiah, and twenty- 
seven of the Psalter. Of the nonbiblical manuscripts composed by the 
Essenes or highly esteemed by them, we have at least eleven copies of 
the Community Rule, nine of the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice, 
eight of the Thanksgiving Hymns, and seven of the War of the Sons of 
Light Against the Sons of Darkness. 

In light of these numbers, we would hardly expect to find only two 
copies of the Temple Scroll if it was the central law of the Qumran 
community. Moreover, there is not a single quotation from the 
Temple Scroll in all of the specifically Essene documents, such as the 
Community Rule, the Damascus Documents, or the Thanksgiving 
Hymns. The Pentateuch is often cited in these writings, from Genesis 
to Deuteronomy, but not one quotation is from the Temple Scroll. 
This clearly demonstrates that, regardless of what the members of the 
Qumran community could learn from copying and reading the 
Temple Scroll, this text was no legal authority for them, neither a 
canonical nor an extracanonical one. 

When the Essene scrolls quote from the Pentateuch, they often cite 
the text as coming from the “Book of the Torah” (Sefer ha-Torah) or 
the “Torah of Moses” (Torath Moshe). We may conclude that when 
the community used these terms they were referring to the 
Pentateuch as it is known to us, and never to the Temple Scroll. 


Another important factor that demonstrates that the Temple Scroll 
was not part of the authorized law of the Essene community at 
Qumran is that the religious law (halakhah ) reflected in the Temple 
Scroll often differs from the Qumran community’s known halakhah. 

At Qumran, every new interpretation of religious law based on an 
inquiry into the Torah had to be acknowledged by a central body 
called “The Council of the Community.” Thereafter, all members of 
the community were obliged to follow the new law. In this way, the 
uniformity of religious law within the group was guaranteed, and no 
differences in understanding of the Torah could result. 

It is true that some religious laws (halakhot ) reflected in the Temple 
Scroll agree with specific religious laws of the Qumran community. 
But these examples simply demonstrate that some of the halakhot of 
the Qumran community come from the same tradition as represented 
also in the Temple Scroll. There is no direct dependence, however, 
and the Temple Scroll’s text is never quoted. An example of such a 
correspondence is the concept that the specific holiness of the 
Temple includes the whole “Holy City” (‘ ir ha-qodesh), that is, the 
whole city of Jerusalem, an interpretation demanded by the Temple 

Scroll as well as by the “Laws” of the Damascus Documents. 

But there are also basic halakhic differences between the Temple 
Scroll and the strictly Essene documents found at Qumran. For 
example, according to the Temple Scroll, the king is permitted to 
marry only one wife during her lifetime, but he is allowed a second 
wife after the death of his first wife. But the “Admonitions” of the 
Damascus Document in all probability prohibit a second marriage to 
all Jews “in their own lifetime.” 

Another example of halakhic differences between the Temple Scroll 
and Qumran law concerns the death penalty. The Temple Scroll 
demands the death penalty for a particular crime, even if there are 
only two witnesses; Essene law (the “Laws” of the Damascus 
Document), however, requires three witnesses in all cases. Here we 

have a direct contradiction, as Lawrence Schiffman has noted. It is 
difficult to imagine a Jewish community or group whose members 
differ internally on main points of halakhah; the halakhah is 
something like God himself. Yet we would have such differences 
within the Qumran community if we were to conclude that the 
Temple Scroll was a central Qumranic document. The differences I 


have cited are, at the very least, difficult to explain if one adheres to 
the theory that the Temple Scroll played a normative role for the 
Qumran community. 

As other scholars have noted, from a literary and philological 
perspective, there is a broad range of differences between the Temple 
Scroll and the specifically Essene texts. For example, the Temple 
Scroll refers to the high priest by his traditional title ha-kohen ha- 
gadol (the great priest); this title never occurs, however, in other 
texts from the Qumran caves. There his title is kohen ha-rosh (the 

high priest) or, perhaps, ha-kohen ha-mashiah (the anointed priest). 

Another example: In the Temple Scroll, Israel is often called ha-‘am 
(the people), and sometimes ‘am ha-qahal (the people of the 
assembly). These expressions never occur in specifically Essene texts, 
which prefer ‘edah (congregation) or yahad (community). The term 
‘edah rarely occurs in the Temple Scroll; and the term yahad never 
occurs there. 

It would be easy to produce a long list of such examples, the upshot 
of which would be to show that the language and the style of the 
Temple Scroll are much more traditional — that is, nearer to the 
biblical books — than the equivalents in the specifically Qumranic 

The laws prescribing the construction of the temple and its courts 
consume almost half of the Temple Scroll. The specifically Essene 
scrolls reflect no interest whatever in this subject. Indeed, these 
Essene texts contain considerable polemic against some conditions at 
the Jerusalem Temple. But this entire polemic is aimed against the 
illegitimate priesthood and the sacrifices they offered there, against 
people who participate in their cult and against their particular 
cultic customs. Never are the Temple building or its courts criticized 
as being at variance with God’s commandments. Nor is there any hint 
in any of the specifically Essene texts of any desire to change the 
Jerusalem Temple building or its broader architectural features. 

In summation: There is not one mention of the Temple Scroll’s text in 
any of the other specifically Essene writings from Qumran. There is 
not one quotation from the Temple Scroll in the many Qumran 
scrolls that otherwise, time and time again, cite all the books of the 
Pentateuch as their unique law. Further, there are clear differences 


between the Temple Scroll and the specifically Essene texts in 
matters of religious law, style, terminology, and other linguistic and 
literary traits. There is also a quite different approach to the Temple 
buildings in the Temple Scroll, on the one hand, and in the 
specifically Essene texts on the other. And last but not least, only two 
copies of the Temple Scroll’s text were found in the Qumran caves, 
both only in Cave 11. 

The result is unequivocal in my opinion: Whatever the Temple Scroll 
was, it was not part of the law of the Qumran community, but only 
some kind of traditional text copied by them once or twice for 
reasons unknown to us. 

But since, as we noted at the outset and as Yadin also observed, the 
Temple Scroll was composed as a book of the Torah like the other 
books of the Pentateuch and was regarded as having been given by 
God himself on Mt. Sinai, we must conclude that the Temple Scroll 
was an essential part of the Torah for another group of Jews. But 
who, where, and when? 

The argument that I have already given — that the Temple Scroll was 
not regarded as part of the Torah by the Essenes at Qumran — has 
been presented to my colleagues at several scholarly meetings and has 
met with widespread agreement and approval. The argument I am 
about to make — as to who, where, and when, and under what 
circumstances — has not met with such widespread agreement. It is, 
in fact, a matter of great controversy. What the outcome of this 
scholarly discussion will be, no one can say for sure — but the 
discussion will be heated and interesting. Nevertheless, it seems 
permissible to present my views, controversial though they are, and 
to observe that, so far, no one has come up with a better suggestion. 

I believe that the Temple Scroll is an early expansion of the Torah — a 
kind of sixth book to be added to the Pentateuch as it has come down 
to us. Expanded Torah scrolls are nothing new, although it is 
certainly unusual to find a whole book representing such an 
expansion. But even before the discoveries at Qumran, we had both 

the Samaritan Pentateuch, with its smaller expansions within the 
text of the traditional five books of the Pentateuch, and the Greek 

Septuagint, with its similar expansions. Now we also have 
expansions of a similar kind in the fragments of Torah scrolls from 


the Qumran caves. 

In my opinion, most of these early expansions to Torah scrolls 
represent the initiative of priests at the Jerusalem Temple from the 
period during which the Judean exiles returned from Babylonia and 
rebuilt the Temple (the Second Temple), from the latter third of the 
sixth century B.C. onwards. The crucial point is that these 
expansions developed at the Second Temple before the canonization 
of the Pentateuch, that is, before an official textual version of the 
Torah was authorized and finally established there. 

According to the Bible, Ezra the Scribe established the canon of the 
Pentateuch in Jerusalem when he returned from the Babylonian 
Exile, some fifty to seventy-five years after the Second Temple was 
built by earlier returnees. The biblical text gives us enough 
information to fix the precise date for Ezra’s return and canonization 
of the Pentateuch — 458 B.C. As we read in the book of Ezra, “During 
the reign of Artaxerxes [465-424 B.C.] . . . Ezra [whose ancestry is 
here traced back to Aaron the high priest] came up from Babylon, a 
scribe expert in the Teaching of Moses” (Ezra 7:1-6). In the next 
verse, we learn that Ezra arrived with other returnees during the 
seventh year of Artaxerxes’s reign (458 B.C.). According to the letter 
of authority that Artaxerxes gave to Ezra, “The Law of your God . . . 
is in your care” (Ezra 7:14). The letter continues: “Ezra, [you are to] 
appoint magistrates and judges . . . who know the Law of your God . . 
. to judge and to teach those who do not know. Let anyone who does 
not obey the Law of your God ... be punished” (Ezra 7:25-26). That 
is precisely what Ezra did, establishing the Pentateuch as the central 
authority in Jerusalem. 

From form-critical studies of the Pentateuch, we know that when the 
Pentateuch first took shape, the editors (or redactors, as they are 
called) used older sources. In the final edition of the Pentateuch, 
these older sources were combined, augmented, and updated 
according to the needs and perspectives of a later day. I believe this 
process occurred in Mesopotamia during the Babylonian Exile. In my 
opinion, Ezra himself brought this version from Mesopotamia to 
Jerusalem; he intended it for the future as the only authoritative 
Torah, proclaiming it the Book of the Torah (Sefer ha-Torah), and 
established it in Jerusalem through the authority of the Persian 
government. Whether compiled in Jerusalem or Babylonia, however, 
the consequence of Ezra’s actions was necessarily that all other Torah 
scrolls used at the Temple of Jerusalem up to Ezra’s time were no 


longer in force. Every new scroll with books of the Pentateuch had to 
conform now to the version Ezra proclaimed as authoritative. 

But what of the many expanded and different versions of Torah 
scrolls that had developed up to that time, Torah scrolls that 
contained additions such as survived in the Samaritan Pentateuch 
and the Septuagint? After all, such traditional expansions had been 
formulated at the Temple by Jerusalem priests based on the 
authority of God himself. Could they be invalidated by a human 
decision — that is, by the authority of the pagan king Artaxerxes I, 
who stood behind the deeds of Ezra the Scribe? 

The way out of this dilemma is reflected in the text of the Temple 
Scroll. Many of the traditional expansions of the hitherto existing 
Torah scrolls were taken over into this new book, which we now 
refer to as the Temple Scroll. 

At this point, I must explain that the Temple Scroll is itself, like 
Genesis, for example, a composite document. In a brilliant article by 
Andrew M. Wilson and Lawrence Wills, with an assist from their 

mentor, Professor John Strugnell of Harvard, the authors clearly 
demonstrate that there are at least five different sources in the 
Temple Scroll. In different parts of the Temple Scroll, for example, 
God is referred to in the first person and in the third person, the 
people are addressed in the singular and in the plural, etc. These five 
distinct sources were not only combined in the Temple Scroll, but 
were superficially revised by a final editor, or redactor, who added 
some further material here and there and created the framework of 
the final text — the same process that is reflected, for example, in 
Genesis. In my judgment, Wilson and Wills are basically correct about 
the different strands of texts combined in the Temple Scroll. On only 
a few minor points would I favor a solution other than the one they 
have proposed. 

When we examine the setting or Sitz im Leben of these five sources of 
the Temple Scroll, we must conclude that they are all shaped by 
specific priestly interests. Even the final redaction reflects these 
priestly interests. And there is nothing other than the practice of the 
priestly cult at the Temple in Jerusalem that is reflected in this 

For this reason, it seems clear that the composition of these five 


sources occurred sometime during the first century of the Second 
Temple period, and their redaction occurred in reaction to, and not 
too long after, Ezra’s canonization of the Pentateuch in 458 B.C. Once 
Ezra had established what was essentially a shorter, canonical 
Pentateuch, in effect outlawing all these former additions and 
expansions, such additions and expansions were collected and edited 
to form what we know as the Temple Scroll. 

The authority of these old additions and expansions of the 
Pentateuch was now assumed by the new book as a whole: God 
himself spoke directly to his people, through this book, as in the 
Pentateuch, even if all its parts did not conform perfectly to the 
overall style of direct address. In this way, through the compilation 
of the Temple Scroll, a sixth book of the Torah was created — the only 
true Elexateuch that has ever existed historically! 

This sixth book of the Torah not only gathered together many of the 
traditional Torah additions and expansions, but, by the adoption of 
the five sources, it also brought into the supplemented Torah other 
materials in which God had spoken to the Fathers in an authoritative 
way regarding matters of the Temple, its cult, the purity of the 
participants, and the many revised halakhic laws. 

Yadin himself noted the tendency of the Temple Scroll to combine 
and harmonize divergent commandments found in the Pentateuch 
and in the books of the prophets. This in effect illustrates the process 
of collection and combination out of which the Temple Scroll was 
created. (A similar method, I might add, can be traced through 
almost all ages of Jewish tradition and is found not only in the 
Mishnah and in the Talmuds, but even as late as the Shulhan ‘Arukh, a 
sixteenth-century collection of laws that remains authoritative to this 
date for observant Jews.) 

My basic thesis depends, I realize, on establishing the date of the 
sources in the Temple Scroll to the early Second Temple period 
(from the latter third of the sixth century to the fifth century B.C.), 
and its redaction to the second half of the fifth century B.C. The most 
important element in establishing this dating has already been 
discussed — the priestly Sitz im Leben of the sources and the historical 
context of Ezra’s canonization of the Pentateuch. No other set of later 
historical circumstances fits these aspects of the text of the Temple 
Scroll and its final editing. Moreover, quite apart from all the other 
arguments, it is difficult to imagine that a supplementary sixth book 


of the Torah could have been compiled and acknowledged by at least 
some Jewish priests much later than the fifth — or the fourth — 
century B.C. 

Nevertheless, this is a somewhat radical redating of the Temple Scroll 
and will not be easily accepted by a scholarly community already 
accustomed to arguing about dates for the Temple Scroll ranging 
between about 200 B.C. and 50 B.C. Possible later historical allusions, 
philology, grammar, etc., will be adduced by my scholarly colleagues 
to support a particular dating later than my proposed dating. But I 
have examined all of the arguments adduced thus far, most of them 
quite technical, and I can say with some degree of confidence that 
none presents any particular problem for the dating I have proposed. 

True, the extant copies of the Temple Scroll that survived at Qumran 
are much later, from about 50 B.C. onwards, but this says nothing 
about the sources’ date of composition or about the date of their 
combination and final redaction. 

Let me give an example of the kinds of issues involved in this dating 
debate. One of the sources of the Temple Scroll consists of a 
reworking of the laws in Deuteronomy 12-26, arranged in a new way, 
with many additions and alterations as compared with the biblical 
text. This source runs from column LI, line 11 of the Temple Scroll to 
the lost end of the scroll, but is interrupted in columns LVII to LIX by 
the so-called Statutes of the King. Deuteronomy 21:22-23 requires 
that a man who has been executed and then publicly exposed by 
talah ‘al ha-’es — literally, hanging on a pole, be buried the same day. 
Otherwise the land will be defiled. In the Temple Scroll, the crimes 
for which talah ‘al ha-’es is required is expanded to include, for 
example, an Israelite who “passes on information about my people 
and betrays my people to a foreign people.” Here the death of the 
evil-doer will be caused by this “hanging on a pole” — not by killing 
him before and then “hanging on a pole,” as in Deuteronomy. Some 
scholars have argued that this passage in the Temple Scroll refers 
specifically to the time of Alexander Jannaeus (first century B.C.), 
who crucified eight hundred Jews alive, most of them Pharisees. 
This is reported by Flavius Josephus and is alluded to in the Pesher 
Nahum from Qumran. But there is no reason whatever to connect the 
discussion of talah ‘al ha-’es in the Temple Scroll to this historical 
incident in the first century B.C. Hanging of the people alive by talah 
‘al ha-’es was familiar to the people of Israel, at least as a Gentile 
punishment, from as early as 701 B.C., when Sennacherib, the king of 


Assyria, conquered the Israelite town of Lachish. The reliefs 
portraying this conquest show three nude Israelites from Lachish 
being impaled on stakes. This kind of talah ‘al ha-’es would thus have 
been usual from as early as the eighth century B.C. 

All other indications of a later date for the Temple Scroll can be 
shown to be inconclusive in this same way, although perhaps less 

Accordingly, we may conclude that the Temple Scroll was composed 
from previously existing sources as a sixth book of the Torah. This 
occurred soon after Ezra’s canonization of the “shorter” Pentateuch, 
the Pentateuch as we know it. If Ezra canonized this “shorter” 
Pentateuch in 458 B.C., the text of the Temple Scroll would have 
been redacted some time after this, in the second half of the fifth 
century B.C. 

In the early Second Temple period (beginning in the latter third of 
the sixth century B.C.), there must have been priestly families, or 
perhaps priestly “schools,” in Jerusalem, that composed the 
expansions and additions that provided the Temple Scroll with its 
sources. Ezra’s “reform” — his canonization of the Pentateuch — 
stopped this process of further creating expansions and additions. He 
established the “original” version of the Pentateuch, known to him, I 
believe, from Mesopotamia, as the only authorized one in Jerusalem 
as well. 

The Temple Scroll incorporated many of the Palestinian “additions” 
from expanded Torah scrolls and used them to create a new Sefer 
Torah, a new Book of the Law. The editor of this text represents the 
end of this kind of creativity in Scripture as far as the Torah is 
concerned. He used these additions and supplementary sources to 
compose a sixth book of the Torah. The authority behind this new 
book, however, was still on the same level as the authority of the 
Pentateuch itself and of its priestly traditions, that is, God himself. 
The editor did not have to resort to any other source of authority for 
his new book. He did not intend to replace the traditional Pentateuch; 
rather, he intended to complete it. 

Somehow, at least two copies of this sixth book of the Torah found 
their way to the ancient libraries of Qumran. With what authority 
the Essenes of Qumran regarded it, we do not know. But we have no 
reason to believe that for them it was a central document of law. But 


for many mainstream Jews in Jerusalem, it probably was such a 
document during the mid-Second Temple period (from the end of the 

fifth century through the fourth, or even third, century B.C.). 

The text of the Temple Scroll will now shed new light on that still 
rather shrouded period of Jewish life in Jerusalem following the 
return of the first exiles from Babylonia. 

* Sec Chapter 7. 

tYigael Yadin was a good friend of mine and always supported me in my 
research. I only wish he had lived to criticize the views I express here 
that diverge from his own. 

+Sec Chapter 2 . 

*See Chapter 5. 

*The Samaritan Pentateuch is the Torah in the form canonized by the 

tThe Septuagint is the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, as translated by 
Jews in Alexandria from the third century B.C. onwards. 








Until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest copies of the 

Rabbinic Recension of the Bible were from the medieval period. 
Scholars tried, but were unable to get behind this text to its 
development in an earlier period. It was assumed — wrongly, as it 
turned out — that there was a Hebrew veritas, a single original text 
that lay behind the Rabbinic Recension. In this chapter, one of the 
world’s greatest text critics of the Bible, Harvard Professor Frank 
Cross, explains how the approximately two hundred biblical 
manuscripts among the Dead Sea Scrolls enable us to get behind 
the Rabbinic Recension and trace its development. 

The term Dead Sea Scrolls for this purpose includes not only 
documents from the Wadi Qumran, but also from other sites along 

the Dead Sea. These biblical texts can be divided into two groups 
— an earlier group from Qumran (which predates the Roman 
destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.) and a later group from sites 
south of Qumran (which dates to the period between the two 
Jewish revolts). The latter group are quite uniform, reflecting the 
fact that a standardized text had already developed. The earlier 
group (from Qumran), however, shows wide variations, sometimes 
even different editions of the same book. Cross is able to identify 
among these different texts three families of texts that appear to 
have originated in different geographical localities — Palestine, 
Egypt, and Babylonia. He then describes the process by which 
these different local texts were chosen for the standardized 


Rabbinic Recension. He also explains the importance of the great 
Jewish sage Hillel in this process and the historical turmoil that 
made a standardized text desirable, if not absolutely necessary. 
Finally, he relates all this to the process of deciding which books 
were to be regarded as authoritative — that is, canonical, to be 
included in the Bible — and which were to be excluded. 

All in all, this chapter is a brilliant synthesis of an enormous 
amount of scholarship. 


Nearly forty years have passed since that fateful spring day in 1947 
when a young Bedouin shepherd threw a stone into a cave in the 
cliffside on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea and heard the 
sound of pottery shattering inside. When he and a companion later 
gathered nerve to crawl into the cave (now known as Qumran Cave 
1), they found seven decaying rolls of leather. These were the original 
“Dead Sea Scrolls.” 

William Foxwell Albright, the most distinguished Near Eastern 
archaeologist and Hebrew epigraphist of his generation, immediately 
hailed the finds as the greatest manuscript discovery of modern 

In the years that followed, both archaeologists and Bedouin have 
explored and dug in hundreds of caves in the great wadis that, like 
the Wadi Qumran, cut through the towering cliffs that mark the 
Jordan Rift. In the competition between clandestine Bedouin diggers 
and archaeologists, it must be confessed that the laurels have gone 
more frequently to the intrepid and patient shepherds. In any case, 
eventually ten additional caves with leather and papyrus manuscripts 
were found in the vicinity of Khirbet Qumran, the ruins of a 
community of Essenes — Jewish sectaries — to whose library the 
documents once belonged. So we now have manuscripts from 
Qumran caves numbered 1 through 11. From Cave 11 came the great 

Temple Scroll acquired by the late Yigael Yadin in 1967. More 
manuscripts and papyri were discovered in the large caves in the 
wadis south of Qumran: the Wadi Murabba'at, the Nahal Hever, and 
the Nahal Se’elim. More recently, in 1962, the oldest group of 
documents from the Jordan Rift was found in the Wadi ed-Daliyeh, 
north of Jericho. These are the Samaria legal papyri from the fourth 



century B.C. 

Most recently of all, in 1963-1964, manuscripts were uncovered in 
Yadin’s excavations of the ruins of Herod’s fortress, Masada, atop a 
diamond-shaped mountain overlooking the Dead Sea. 

In any other generation each of these finds would have been regarded 
as nothing short of sensational. Altogether they have been 
overwhelming — in two senses. First, the magnitude of these 
discoveries can hardly be comprehended. Second, the labors of 
piecing together hundreds of thousands of fragments, editing, 
interpreting, and assimilating these manuscripts have often 
overwhelmed the scholarly community with a responsibility both 
glorious and oppressive. Nearly forty years of discovery and research 
are now past. I suspect that another forty years will pass before the 
first exploratory investigation of these “treasures of darkness” will be 
completed. Almost each year a large new volume of previously 
unpublished material comes into print, and this will be so for many 
years to come. I am myself in the process of completing three 
volumes of unpublished manuscripts and papyri. The impact of all 
these discoveries and of all this research will be enormous. 

I should like to explore several important areas of historical study in 
which new insights and conclusions are emerging. 

First, I shall discuss the bearing of new studies upon our 
understanding of the history of the biblical text. From the Dead Sea 
Scrolls, we have learned a great deal about the early transmission of 
biblical books, the fixation of the text of biblical books, and even the 
procedure by which the canon of the Hebrew Bible came into being. 
In short, we now know in some detail what the biblical materials 
were like before they became “biblical,” as well as the process by 
which the texts became fixed and chosen as “biblical.” 

To replace the new evidence in context, it will be useful to review 
briefly the status of the study of the history of the text of the Hebrew 
Bible prior to the discovery of the manuscripts on the shore of the 
Dead Sea. 

The Bible survives in many Hebrew manuscripts and in several 
ancient versions translated from the Hebrew. In the medieval Hebrew 
manuscripts scripts there are hundreds, even thousands of 
differences, mostly minor, rarely major. In the old versions, 


especially in the Old Greek version (which was written beginning in 
the third century B.C. and is commonly called the Septuagint), there 
are thousands of variants, many minor, but also many major. Even 
before the discovery of biblical manuscripts in the caves of Qumran 
and elsewhere in the Jordan Rift, these manuscripts and versions 
provided a rich body of resources for the textual critic’s attempts to 
reconstruct the history of the biblical text. At the same time, the 
history of the text of the Hebrew Bible has been confused and 
obscured by an assumption, or rather a dogma, on the part of the 
ancients — rabbis and Church Fathers alike — that the Hebrew text was 
unchanged and unchanging, unaltered by the usual scribal realities 
that produce families of texts and different recensions in works that 
have survived over long periods of transmission. 


Samaria legal papyri. 

(4 th century B.G.) \ 



AlrlUtfSCripIS of J 90 
biblical hooks reflecting 
3 textual families of early 
texts (230 & C. -68 A. ft) 





m jk fichu 

Biblical manuscripts 
including Afinor 
Prophets in Hebrew 
(70-135 A -ft.) 

* fcruMfeili 

A >t itio r Proph ets in 
Greek, Fragment of 
Piairn S, Beir Kokhna 
fetters (first half of 
2nd century A -ft.) 






Biblical fragments no 
' thanflA.D 

fdOn-hihlical papyrus 
\ fragments in Greek 
( 2nd century A - ft.) 

NAHAl Sll'tljjVl 

swe i?f 

nia^scripH tln#i 

Q 5 T-ft m 

U- '2 i 

Sites of Manuscript Discoveries 


Auras Design 

This dogma of the Hebraica veritas may be found as early as the late 
first century of the Common Era, when Josephus, the Jewish 
historian, wrote: 

We have given practical proof of our reverence for our scriptures. For, 
although such long ages have now passed, no one has ventured to add, or 
to remove, or to alter a syllable; and it is an instinct with every Jew, from 
the day of his birth, to regard them as decrees of God, to abide by them, 

and if need be, cheerfully to die for them. 

Josephus evidently regarded the Hebrew Bible as having, in theory at 
least, an immutable text. 

Origen, the Church Father, ordinarily used the Old Greek version of 
the Bible. But he, too, apparently assumed that his Greek Bible was 
translated from a Hebrew textual base that was the same as the 
rabbinical Hebrew text in current use in his day. Hence, in his 

monumental Hexapla he carefully corrected his Greek manuscripts 
to be the Hebraica veritas — incidentally, with catastrophic results for 
the subsequent transmission of the Greek Bible. 

Jerome, writing in the fourth century, applied the principle of 
“correcting to the Hebrew” to the Latin Bible, displacing earlier Latin 
translations (based on the Old Greek Bible) with a new Latin 
translation that has come to be called the Vulgate, a Latin version 
translated from the standard Rabbinic Recension of the Hebrew Bible 
in use in Jerome’s time. 

The search for the early stages in the history of the text of the 
Hebrew Bible began to be pursued scientifically in the late eighteenth 
century, but the extant manuscripts were all of medieval date, and 
the results were disappointing for those who hoped to find traces of 
archaic forms of the text. The sifting of the medieval manuscripts 
yielded, in its mass of variant readings, no evidence of alternate 


textual families or text types. The variants were secondary and of 
late date, the slips and errors of medieval scribes. Indeed, it could be 
argued that the theory of a fixed and unchanging Hebrew text was 
given added support by the evidence from the collections of medieval 


Some of the more astute textual scholars, however, argued that all 
medieval Hebrew manuscripts derived from a single recension fixed 
early in the Christian era, and that this recension alone survived in 
the Jewish communities. Direct access to the early development of 
the text of the Hebrew Bible (prior to the recensions) was thus 

effectively blocked. Accordingly, the sea of variants in the great 
collections of manuscripts was of little or no help in the endeavor to 
recover ancient readings standing behind corruptions in the textus 

receptus. It could be, and was, argued that the medieval text 
stemmed from a single archetype, or from single manuscripts of each 
biblical work, which already possessed the pattern of errors held in 

common by the medieval text. 

The fact is, however, that in the nineteenth century, there was little 
hard evidence to determine precisely the procedure by which the 
Rabbinic Recension, found in all medieval manuscripts, came into 
being and was promulgated. In the end, the vigorous scholarly 
debates of the nineteenth century subsided, and while much research 
and theorizing continued, no major advances were made until the 
discovery of Hebrew and Greek manuscripts in the Wilderness of 
Judah — the Dead Sea Scrolls. 

The discovery of ancient manuscripts in the eleven caves of Qumran 
provided the first unambiguous witnesses to an ancient stage of the 

Hebrew text of the Bible. These caves have yielded some 170 
manuscripts of biblical books, most of them in a highly fragmentary 

state, and their publication is still in progress. 

Although all the evidence is not yet published, we can compare these 
Qumran manuscripts with a dozen or so biblical manuscripts, again 
fragmentary and some still unpublished, recovered from the Nahal 
Hever, the Wadi Murabba'at, and Herod’s fortress at Masada. The two 
groups of manuscripts — the Qumran manuscripts, on the one hand, 
and the manuscripts found in the southern caves and at Masada — 
vary in two critical respects. The manuscripts of the Qumran group 
are earlier (varying in date between about 250 B.C. to 68 A.D.), at 
which time the Essene community at Qumran was destroyed by the 
Romans as part of the suppression of the First Jewish Revolt (66-70 
A.D.). On palaeographical grounds, we can date most of these biblical 
manuscripts no later than the first half of the first century of the 


Common Era, and most are earlier. The second “southern group” — 
from the caves of the Wadi Murabba‘at, from the Nahal Hever, and 
from Masada — date as a group from a later period. Most important of 
the manuscripts of the southern group are the great Hebrew Minor 


Prophets Scroll from a cave in the Wadi Murabba'at and the Greek 
Minor Prophets Scroll from the Nahal Hever. 

The Minor Prophets Scroll from Murabba‘at can be dated 
palaeographically to the second half of the first century of the 
Common Era, and the biblical fragments from Masada to no later than 
73 A.D., when the Romans stormed the bastion and destroyed its 
fortifications. A number of the biblical fragments from the southern 
caves date to the interval between the First and Second Jewish 
Revolts, that is, between 70 and 135 A.D., and once belonged to 
followers of Bar Kokhba, the messianic leader of the Second Revolt 
(132-135 A.D.). 

The two groups of biblical manuscripts differ not only in date. The 
southern (later) group reveals a text that shows no significant 
deviation from the archetypal Rabbinic Recension — that is, the 

recension that is ancestral to the Masoretic text, our traditional 

Hebrew Bible. This is in marked contrast to the Qumran group of 
documents, which reveals other text types. 

The data drawn from the southern manuscripts enable us to conclude 
that before the end of the first century of the Common Era, a 
recension of the text of the Hebrew Bible had been promulgated that 
had overwhelming authority, at least in Pharisaic circles, and that 
came to dominate the Jewish community in the interval between the 
fall of Jerusalem to the Romans in 70 A.D., and the Roman 
suppression of the Second Jewish Revolt in 135 A.D. 

The textual situation at Qumran differed totally. The Qumran 
manuscripts show no influences that we can detect of the 
standardization that marks the Rabbinic Recension. At Qumran we 
find evidence of discrete and, indeed, recognizable families of textual 
tradition, including text types that are different from the Rabbinic 
Recension. These variant streams of tradition have been called 

“recensions” or “families” or “local texts.” 

Sometimes one of these text types differs strikingly in detail from the 


traditional text that has come down to us. In extreme instances we 
discover that a textual tradition is preserved in a manuscript that 
stems not merely from textual changes in individual readings; it 
derives from an edition of a biblical work different broadly in content 
and length from the edition used in the Rabbinic Recension. For 
example, there are two editions of Jeremiah represented in 
manuscripts from Qumran: a long edition known from our traditional 
Bible and a short edition that also differs in the order of the 
prophetic oracles. There are two editions (or collections) of the 
Psalter, one Persian in date, one Hellenistic. There is a whole Daniel 
literature, of which the book of Daniel is only a single part. Instances 
of different editions of biblical books, however, are relatively rare. 
For the most part the textual families reflected in extant biblical 
manuscripts are marked by variants in individual readings; 
grammatical changes, alternate vocabulary, omissions or additions of 
words, phrases, and even, on occasion, paragraphs. 

The different text types of most biblical books appear to be the 
product of natural growth, or of local development, in the process of 
scribal transmission, not of a controlled or systematic recension, 
revision, or collation at a given place or time. At the same time, the 
different texts possess traits, some more or less systematic, that 
permit them to be classified in different families. The common traits 
of a textual family include, for example, their “bad genes,” an 
inherited group of mistakes or secondary readings perpetuated by 
copyists generation after generation. Other distinguishing traits may 
be a particular orthographic (spelling) style, the type of script 
utilized, the repeated appearance of a peculiar chronology or 
numeral calculation (arising often in attempts to resolve apparent or 
real errors in traditional numbers), the systematic introduction into 
the text of parallel readings (especially in legal sections with parallel 
sections in other books), and repeated use of archaizing or 
“modernized” grammatical and lexical features. 

The Qumran manuscripts not only provide evidence of early textual 
traditions; perhaps even more important, the data drawn from the 
Qumran discoveries enable us to identify and delineate other textual 
traditions that survive from times before the Common Era — 
including the Hebrew textual base of the Old Greek translation, the 
textual background of the Samaritan Recension of the Pentateuch, 
and the text type that was utilized in the Rabbinic Recension. In this 
great complex of textual materials, as many as three textual families 
have been identified in certain biblical books (the Pentateuchal books 


and the books of Samuel), two textual families in other books, 
notably in Jeremiah and Job, and in many books only one textual 
tradition is reflected in extant data (for example, Isaiah and Ezekiel). 
The textual critic is thus confronted with the task of organizing this 
evidence: the existence of a plurality of textual types in the early era, 
the limited number of distinct textual families, and the relative 
homogeneity of the variant textual traditions over several centuries 
of time. 

I have proposed a theory of “local texts” to satisfy the requirements 
of this data. As applied to those books where three textual families 
exist, namely in the Pentateuch and Samuel, this theory may be 
sketched as follows: Three forms of the text appear to have 
developed slowly between the fifth century B.C. and the first century 
B.C., in the Jewish communities in Palestine, in Egypt, and in 
Babylon, respectively. The Palestinian text is the dominant family in 
the Qumran manuscripts. Its earliest witness is found in the 
Chronicler’s citations of the Pentateuch and Samuel. This Palestinian 
text was also used in the Samaritan Recension of the Pentateuch. At 
least in its late form, the Palestinian text can be characterized as 


expansionists, a full text marked frequently by conflation, glosses, 
synoptic additions (that is, the insertion of readings from parallel 
passages in other sources), and other evidence of intense scribal 
activity. Omissions owing to scribal lapses are relatively infrequent. 
To this family belong the Pentateuchal manuscripts inscribed in the 
Palaeo-Hebrew script, a derivative of the old national script of pre- 

Exilic Israel. 

1st century AD NkhcenttayAO. 














Local Texts Theory: History of the Text of Exodus 
Auras Design 

The second textual family, which we label Egyptian, is found in the 


Old Greek (Septuagint) translation of the Pentateuch and Reigns (the 
Greek version of Samuel and Kings), and in the short edition of 
Jeremiah found in one Hebrew manuscript at Qumran. In some 
respects the Egyptian family resembles the Palestinian text, 
especially the earliest of the Palestinian witnesses, and may be 
regarded as a branch of the Old Palestinian family. 

The third family we designate “Babylonian,” although we are, in fact, 
uncertain of the locale of its origin. As we shall see, the intellectual 
influence of the powerful Babylonian community was to exercise a 
decisive role in the emergence of the authoritative Rabbinic 
Recension. This third text type, known thus far only in the 
Pentateuch and Samuel, forms the base of the Rabbinic Recension. In 
the Pentateuch, it is a conservative, often pristine text, which shows 
little expansion and relatively few traces of revision and modernizing. 

Thus at Qumran, and in traditions of the biblical text that broke off 
from the main Jewish stream before the turn of the Common Era, we 
find several textual families. None, including the text type ancestral 
to the Rabbinic Recension, shows evidence of a systematic recension 
or stabilization. 

In the southern caves and at Masada, however, we find only a single 
text type, one that shows every evidence of the external controls that 
fixed the text we call the Rabbinic Recension. The southern group of 
manuscripts stands very close to the archetype of this recension. We 
are led, therefore, to the conclusion that the Rabbinic Recension of 
the Hebrew Bible — what we may also call the authoritative Pharisaic 
text — was fixed by the time of the Roman destruction of Jerusalem 
in 70 A.D. This recension became regnant only in the interval 
between the two Jewish Revolts, when the Pharisaic party came 
wholly to dominate the surviving Jewish community and rival 
parties diminished and disappeared. Sects like the Christians and 
Samaritans continued to exist but only as separate communities, 
isolated from Pharisaic influence. Rabbinic Judaism survived and 
with it the Rabbinic Recension. 

The Rabbinic Recension was promulgated as a response and solution 
to a textual crisis that developed in late Hellenistic and early Roman 
times. The Maccabean Revolt, initiated in 167 B.C., ultimately 
reestablished an independent Jewish state, which had not existed 
since the time the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and the First 
Temple in 587 B.C. In the wake of Maccabean victories that led 


eventually to the full independence of Judea under the rule of Simon 
the Maccabee (140-134 B.C.), a Zionist revival was fueled, 
augmented by Parthian expulsions of the Jews. A flood of Jews 

returned to Jerusalem from Babylon, Syria, and Egypt. By the first 
century before and the first century after the Common Era, 
competing local texts and editions had found their way to Judah, 
causing considerable confusion, as reflected in the library at Qumran. 
Moreover, the uncontrolled development of the text of individual 
textual families became intolerable and precipitated a textual crisis 
when the urgent need for precise doctrinal and legal (halakhic) 
exegesis arose in Hellenistic Judaism. Party strife began in earnest in 
the mid-second century B.C. with the emergence of the Sadducean, 
Pharisaic, and Essene parties, and the subsequent religious disputes 
between the parties increased the need for a fixed, authoritative text. 
By the beginning of the first century of the Common Era, there was 
further splintering into sectarian groups, and there is evidence of 
intense intraparty and sectarian dispute and contention. 

These data provide the general time and historical context for the 
creation of the Rabbinic Recension. Other hints, limiting the time 
frame in which we must place the promulgation of the Rabbinic 

Recension, are found in the history of the Greek recensions. The 
Rabbinic Recension was promulgated in the first half of the first 
century of the present era. In these same days we witness also the 


fixing of hermeneutical rules, as well as read reports of Pharisaic 
discussions of the schools of Hillel and Shammai, which presume a 
more or less fixed text. I think it is not too much to go even further 
and to attribute the initiation of the recensional labors that fixed the 
text of the Pharisaic Bible to the great sage Hillel himself (early first 
century A.D.) — or at least to the school of rabbinic scholars he 

Hillel, it should be remembered, came to Palestine from Babylon and 
became the dominant and most creative spirit of his day; he was a 
giant whose impress on Pharisaism cannot be exaggerated, and his 
direct descendants were the principal leaders in the normative 
Jewish community for many generations. 

The fact that Hillel (and his circle) were responsible for the selection 
of the protorabbinic manuscripts that stood behind the Rabbinic 
Recension would explain a number of its peculiarities. For example, 


the texts of the Pentateuch and Samuel that were chosen for the 
Rabbinic Recension appear to be of Babylonian origin rather than the 

prevailing late Palestinian texts that were available. In their 
recensional activities, the rabbis also rejected the Palaeo-Hebrew 
script and its orthographic style, which was used in the most elegant 
Pentateuchal manuscripts inscribed in Palestine, choosing instead the 
common Jewish script in broad use in Palestine and throughout the 
Diaspora Jewish communities. The choice of the common Jewish 
script is particularly striking in view of the official use of the old 
national script by the ruling high priests for temple inscriptions and 
for their coinage. 

The fixation of the text by Pharisaic scholars followed a pattern 
unusual in the textual history of ancient literary documents. The 
Pharisaic scholars did not produce an eclectic text by choosing 
preferred readings and rejecting obvious glosses or additions. This 
was the procedure followed by Greek scholars in Alexandria in 
establishing a short, if artificial, recension of the text of Homer. Nor 
did the rabbis combine variant readings from different textual 
traditions, a recensional technique that produced conflate recensions 
of the Septuagint and the New Testament. Instead, the rabbis selected 
a single textual tradition, which I term the protorabbinic text, a text 
that had been in existence in individual manuscripts for some 

time. In a given biblical book of the Hebrew Bible the rabbis chose 
exemplars of one textual family or even a single manuscript as a base. 
They did not collate all the wide variety of text types available; on the 
contrary, they firmly rejected in some instances a dominant late 
Palestinian text. It should be noted, however, that they did not select, 
in the case of every book, texts having a common origin or local 
background. In the Pentateuch they chose a short, relatively 
unconflated text — a superb text from the point of view of the modern 
critic — which we believe derived from a conservative Babylonian 
textual tradition. In the Major Prophets, on the other hand, they 
chose the relatively late and full Palestinian text of Isaiah, Ezekiel, 
and Jeremiah. In Jeremiah, in fact, they selected the long edition of 
Jeremiah in preference to the shorter, and in some ways, superior 

The choice of a non-Palestinian text of the Pentateuch is of particular 
interest. The books of the Torah (the Pentateuch) held central 
authority for all the Jewish parties. Indeed, the Sadducees and the 
Zadokite priest of the separatist Samaritan community regarded the 


Pentateuch alone as the basis of religious doctrine and practice. The 
Samaritans, in contrast to the rabbis, chose for their sectarian 
recension of the Pentateuch a late Palestinian text inscribed in 
Palaeo-Hebrew, also known from the finds at Qumran. 

We may speculate that HillePs personal preference was responsible 
for the surprising choice of the Babylonian textual base for the 
Pharisaic Pentateuch. In this case, the conservative Torah scrolls that 
he knew and to which he was accustomed became, under his urging, 
the basis of the new Rabbinic Recension. It is quite possible that an 
old saying embedded in the Babylonian Talmud preserves a memory 
of Hillers role in the events, leading to the fixation of the Hebrew 
text and canon: “When Israel forgot the Torah, Ezra came up from 
Babylon and reestablished it; and when Israel once again forgot the 

Torah, Hillel the Babylonian came up and reestablished it . . .” 

This much is certain. The vigorous religious community in Babylon 
repeatedly in Jewish history developed spiritual and intellectual 
leaders who reshaped the direction of Palestinian Judaism and 
defined its norms. Such was the case in the restoration after the 
Exile, again in the person of Hillel, and finally in the rise of the 
Babylonian Talmud. 

In the lines above, I have written almost exclusively about the 
fixation of the text as opposed to the stabilization of the canon. In the 
remarks that follow I shall focus on the latter, and specifically on the 
fixation of the Pharisaic canon on the Hebrew Bible. I shall use the 
term canon in its strict sense: a fixed list of books of scripture that 
was deemed unvariable, not to be added to or subtracted from. In 
origin, the term canon meant a rule, and concretely in the usage of 
the Church Fathers, a closed list of books defined as authoritative for 
religious faith and practice. 

The earliest clear definition of the “closed” Hebrew canon is found in 
Josephus in his apologetic work, Contra Apionem, written in Rome 
in the last decade of the first century of the Common Era. He asserted 
that there was a fixed and immutable number of “justly accredited” 

books, twenty-two in number. Their authority was founded on their 
derivation from a period of uncontested prophetic inspiration 
beginning with Moses and ending in the era of Nehemiah. 

[W]e do not possess myriads of inconsistent books, conflicting with each 


other. Our books, those which are justly accredited, are but two and 
twenty, and contain the record of all time. Of these, five are the books of 
Moses, comprising the laws, and the traditional history from the birth of 
man down to the death of the lawgiver. . . . From the death of Moses until 
Artaxerxes, who succeeded Xerxes as king of Persia, the prophets 
subsequent to Moses wrote the history of the events of their own times in 
thirteen books. The remaining four books contain hymns to God and 
precepts for the conduct of human life. From Artaxerxes to our own time 
the complete history has been written, but has not been deemed worthy of 
equal credit with the earlier records, because of the failure in the exact 

succession of prophets. 5 

Josephus’ canon specifically excludes works of Hellenistic date, and 
by implication works attributed to pre-Mosaic patriarchs. In the 
paragraph subsequent to the one cited, he adds that the precise text 
of the twenty-two books was fixed to the syllable. 

Where are we to seek the origin of Josephus’ doctrine of a fixed text 
and a fixed canon? Josephus was a Pharisee, and I believe that he is 
here drawing upon his Pharisaic tradition and ultimately the work 
and teachings of Hillel. 

There is no evidence in non-Pharisaic Jewish circles before 70 A.D. 
of either a fixed canon or text. The Essenes at Qumran exhibit no 
knowledge of this fixed text or canon. The same is true in the 
Hellenistic Jewish community in Alexandria, and in the early 
Christian communities. Until recently there has been a scholarly 
consensus that the acts of inclusion and exclusion that fixed the 

canon were completed only at the “Council of Jamnia (Yabneh)” 
meeting about the end of the first century of the Common Era. 
However, recent sifting of the rabbinic evidence makes clear that in 
the proceedings of the academy of Yabneh the Rabbis did not fix the 
canon, but at most discussed marginal books, notably Ecclesiastes 
(Qohelet) and the Song of Songs. The rabbis asserted that both 
Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs “defile the hands,” i.e., are holy 
books. They should thus be included in the canon. This decision 
thereby ratified the dicta of the house of Hillel in the case of 

Ecclesiastes and probably in the case of the Song of Songs as well. 
Moreover, it must be insisted that the proceedings at Yabneh were 
not a “council,” certainly not in the late ecclesiastical sense. Whatever 
decisions were taken at Yabneh, they were based on earlier opinions, 
and they failed to halt continued disputes concerning marginal books: 
Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, and Esther of the “included” books, Ben 


Sira among the “excluded” or apocryphal. In any case, it is clear that 
Josephus in Rome did not take his clue from contemporary or later 
proceedings or Yabneh, nor did he manufacture a theory of canon 
from whole cloth. Thinly concealed behind Josephus’ Greek 
apologetics is a clear and coherent theological doctrine of canon that 
must stem, we believe, from the canonical doctrine of Hillel and his 

school. 17 

The Canon of the Hebrew Bible and the Excluded Books 

The tentative identification of the textual families (B.P.E.) by Frank Moore Cross 
is based on all of the data, old and new, including Qumran fragments, the 
Masoretic text and the Old Greek versions. Usually the Qumran material is 
Palestinian (P). In the case of Jeremiah both the Palestinian and the Egyptian 
families are represented by manuscripts from Qumran. 

Auras Design 

We cannot press the date of the fixation of the Pharisaic canon earlier 
than the time of Hillel, as an occasional scholar has attempted to do. 
Our evidence comes from the so-called Kaige Recension referred to in 
endnote 11. The Kaige Recension, at the end of the first century B.C., 
revised the Greek Bible to accord with the protorabbinic text, not 
with the later fixed Rabbinic Recension. Similarly, the revision 
embodied in the Kaige Recension extended to the book of Baruch and 
the longer edition of Daniel, works excluded from the Rabbinic 
Recension. This effort to update Baruch and the longer edition of 
Daniel would be most difficult to explain if at the time of the 
preparation of the Kaige Recension, the book of Baruch and the 
additions to Daniel had already been excluded from the Pharisaic 


canon. Since the recensional labors in the Kaige Recension can be 
dated to about the turn of the Common Era, and its Pharisaic bias is 
clear, it follows that as late as the end of the first century B.C., an 
authoritative, canonical list had not yet emerged, at least in its final 
form, even in Pharisaic circles. 

I am persuaded by the accumulation of evidence that the same 
circumstances that brought on the textual crisis that led to the 
fixation of the Hebrew text — varied texts and editions, party strife 
and sectarian division, the systematization of hermeneutic principles 


and halakhic dialectic — were the occasion as well for a canonical 
crisis, requiring the fixation of a Pharisaic canon, and further, that 
Hillel was the central figure in sharpening the crisis and responding 
to it. The fixation of the text and the fixation of the canon were thus 
two aspects of a single if complex endeavor. Both were essential to 
erect “Hillelite” protection against rival doctrines of cult and 
calendar, alternate legal dicta and theological doctrines, and indeed 
against the speculative systems and mythological excesses of certain 
apocalyptic schools and proto-Gnostic sects. To promulgate a textual 
recension, moreover, one must set some sort of limit on the books 
whose text is to be fixed. In electing the text of one edition of a book 
over the text of an alternate edition — in the case of Jeremiah or 
Chronicles or Daniel — one makes decisions that are at once textual 
and canonical. Ultimately, the strategies that initiate the fixation of 
the biblical text lead to the de facto, if not de jure, fixation of a canon. 

The principles guiding the exclusion of works from the Pharisaic 
canon reflected in Josephus’ notices no doubt also operated in 
eliminating works offensive to Hillel and the house of Hillel. The host 
of pseudepigraphical works written in the name of Enoch, 
Melchizedek, the sons of Jacob, Amram, and the like, which became 
popular in Hellenistic times, and which fill the library of Qumran, 
were excluded from the canon. The prophetic sequence began with 
Moses. There can be little doubt, moreover, that the rabbis 
recognized the recent date of certain apocryphal and 
pseudepigraphic works since such cycles as Enoch and the 
Testaments of the Patriarchs were still in their creative, fluid phase 
of composition, unfixed as literary works, in the Roman period. The 
principle of excluding works of “post-Prophetic” authorship 
permitted also the suppression of the propagandists book of 
Maccabees, certain of the Hellenistic novellas, and Ben Sira, although 
the case of pseudepigraphs written in the name of the “Prophets,” 


especially the Jeremianic apocrypha, Baruch, and the Letter of 
Jeremiah must have caused difficulty and dispute. Ezekiel, Song of 
Songs, and Ecclesiastes were controversial works, in all probability, 
because of their content, but were sufficiently old and recognized to 

prevent their being excluded from the canon. Most mysterious is 
the selection for inclusion of an edition of Daniel not earlier than the 
Maccabean age, although it contains earlier material, and of Esther. It 
must be said, however, that in general, the rabbis chose for inclusion 
in their canon works or editions that in fact reached their final 
literary form (that is, when compositional activity ceased) by the end 
of the Persian period (late fourth century B.C.). 

If I am correct in perceiving the hand of Hillel in the promulgation of 
a Pharisaic text and canon, and in recognizing a reference to this 
achievement in the rabbinic saying, “When Israel once again forgot 
[the Torah], Hillel the Babylonian came up and reestablished it,” I 
must nevertheless acknowledge that this canon and text did not 
immediately supplant other traditions or receive uniform acceptance 
even in Pharisaic circles. The ascendancy of the Hillelite text and 
canon came with the victory of the Pharisaic party and the Hillelite 
house in the interval between the two Jewish Revolts against Rome. 
After that, the text and the canon of the Hebrew Bible — despite 
rabbinical queries about marginal books from time to time — 
remained fixed and guarded down to our own day. 

*A recension is an edition of an ancient text involving a more or less 
systematic revision of an earlier text form. 

tSee Introduction, “Of Caves and Scholars: An Overview.” 

*See Paul W. Lapp, “Bedouin Find Papyri Three Centuries Older than 
Dead Sea Scrolls,” and Frank Moore Cross, “The Historical 
Importance of the Samaria Papyri,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 
March 1978. 

*The Hexapla was a six or more columned work in which the first column 
contained the Hebrew text of the Bible; the second column, a 
transliteration of the Hebrew text into Greek script; the third, the 
recension of Aquila; the fourth, the recension of Symmachus; the fifth, 
Origen’s revised text of the Septuagint; and the sixth column, the 
recension of Theodotion. 

*By secondary, I refer to errors creeping into the text after the fixation of 
the text. 


tThat is, the received or traditional text. 

*The Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets included (in traditional order) 
Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, 
Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. The Murabba'at Minor 
Prophets extends from the middle of Joel to the beginning of 

tThe term Masoretic refers to the schools of Masoretes, Jewish biblical 
scholars of the late Middle Ages, who handled and standardized 
traditions of the punctuation (including vocalization), accentuation, 
divisions, etc. of the consonantal (unpointed) text of the medieval 
Hebrew Bible. 

* Conflation is the technical term used when two variant readings are 

combined into one reading in the course of scribal transmission. The 
scribe thus conflates the manuscripts available to him. 

tA gloss is a brief explanatory note or reading either in the margin or 
between the lines of a manuscript. Often glosses were introduced into 
the text itself by a scribe who supposed the gloss a correction of the 

+The Palaeo-Hebrew script survives to the present day in manuscripts of 
the Samaritan Pentateuch. The Jewish character of the Hellenistic and 
Roman periods, the ancestor of the modern Hebrew bookhand, is a 
derivative of the Aramaic script of the Persian chancelleries. 

* Hermeneutical rules are the logical principles that may be used to 

interpret a text — guides to exegesis. 

* Josephus’ canon of twenty-two books no doubt was the same as the 

traditional Hebrew canon that has been transmitted to us. For the 
reckoning, see endnote 17. 

tThe “Council of Jamnia” is a common and somewhat misleading 
designation of a particular session of the rabbinic academy (or court) 
at Yabneh at which it was asserted that Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs 
“defile the hands,” i.e., are holy scripture. The session in question was 
held about 90 A.D., although even this date is far from certain. The 
academy was founded by Yohanan ben Zakkai, a disciple of Hillel. It 
was presided over by Gamaliel II, a descendant of Hillel, during much 
of the era between the two Jewish Revolts against Rome. The 
academy, in effect, resurrected the institution of the Sanhedrin, which 
exercised religious authority over the Jewish community before the 
Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. 

* By halakhic dialectic I mean the mode of legal reasoning by which 


religious law was derived from Scripture. 





In this short chapter, Professor Cross provides two examples of 
how the Dead Sea Scrolls enable us to understand the biblical text 
better. In the first example, a paragraph missing from the 
Rabbinic Recension of the book of Samuel, but present in a 
fragmentary copy of this book from Qumran, helps to explain an 
otherwise difficult-to -under stand passage in the Hebrew Bible as it 
has come down to us. 

In the second, very different example, Cross demonstrates how the 
scrolls help us to appreciate the development of late biblical 
religion. After the period of classical prophecy, an apocalyptic 
element entered the Jewish religion in a way that was to affect 
both rabbinic Judaism and Christianity. Until now, this 
apocalyptic element in biblical religion has been largely ignored by 


The manuscripts from Qumran that differ from the received texts not 
only provide data for the history of the biblical text, as I described in 
Chapter 11, on occasion we find in these manuscripts readings of 
exceptional interest for the reconstruction of the original text of the 

Let me give a single example of such a reading. In the received text of 


Samuel, we read about a critical confrontation between Saul and 
Nahash, king of the Ammonites. Saul is victorious and as a result he 
is confirmed as Israel’s first king. 

In the biblical account as it has come down to us in 1 Samuel 11, 
Nahash besieged the Israelite city of Jabesh-Gilead. The men of 
Jabesh-Gilead asked Nahash for surrender terms. Nahash’s terms 
were harsh: In addition to the Israelites becoming servants to the 
Ammonites, the Israelite men’s right eyes would be gouged out. The 
men of the town asked for a week’s respite before agreeing to the 
terms to see if their fellow Israelites would come to their aid. Saul, 
hearing of their plight, rallied the militia of Israel, crossed the 
Jordan, and met Nahash and the Ammonites in battle. Saul was 
overwhelmingly victorious and delivered Jabesh-Gilead, thereby 
demonstrating his leadership. He was promptly confirmed as king. 

Why did Nahash suddenly attack Jabesh-Gilead, an Israelite city 
allied with the house of Saul? We are not told. The question is 
especially puzzling because Jabesh-Gilead lay far north of the 
boundary claimed by the Ammonites. And the question is 
particularly interesting because by his attack Nahash not only 
brought defeat on his own head, but more serious for Ammon’s 
future, the attack proved to be the catalyst that united Israel and 
initiated forces that led to the rise of the Israelite empire under Saul’s 
successor David. Ammon then became subject to this empire. 
Nahash’s attack on Jabesh-Gilead was a pivotal event both in Israelite 
and in Ammonite history. 

A first-century B.C. manuscript of the books of Samuel found in 
Qumran Cave 4 contains a long passage, not found in our Bible, 
introducing chapter 11 of 1 Samuel. This manuscript (designated 

4QSam a in the technical literature) is the best preserved of the 
biblical manuscripts from Cave 4. When fully published, it will 
consist of more than twenty-five printed plates of fragments. The 
manuscript belongs to a Palestinian textual tradition at variance with 

the text type used in the Rabbinic Recension. The received text of 
Samuel is, in fact, notorious for its scribal lapses, especially 
omissions. The present example is only one of a number of instances 

(though perhaps the most dramatic) where 4QSam a preserves lost 
bits of the text of Samuel. 

The full text of 1 Samuel 1 1 (New Jewish Publication Society 


translation): Nahash the Ammonite marched up and besieged Jabesh- 
gilead. All the men of Jabesh-gilead said to Nahash, “Make a pact with us, 
and we will serve you.” But Nahash the Ammonite answered them. “I will 
make a pact with you on this condition, that everyone’s right eye be 
gouged out; I will make this a humiliation for all Israel.” The elders of 
Jabesh said to him, “Give us seven days’ respite, so that we may send 
messengers throughout the territory of Israel; if no one comes to our aid, 
we will surrender to you.” When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul 
and gave this report in the hearing of the people, all the people broke into 

Saul was just coming from the field driving the cattle; and Saul asked, 
“Why are the people crying?” And they told him about the situation of the 
men of Jabesh. When he heard these things, the spirit of God gripped Saul 
and his anger blazed up. He took a yoke of oxen and cut them into pieces, 
which he sent by messengers throughout the territory of Israel, with the 
warning, “Thus shall be done to the cattle of anyone who does not follow 
Saul and Samuel into battle!” Terror from the Lord fell upon the people, 
and they came out as one man. [Saul] mustered them in Bezek, and the 
Israelites numbered 300,000, the men of Judah 30,000. The messengers 
who had come were told, “Thus shall you speak to the men of Jabesh- 
gilead: Tomorrow, when the sun grows hot, you shall be saved.” When the 
messengers came and told this to the men of Jabesh-gilead, they rejoiced. 
The men of Jabesh then told [the Ammonites], “Tomorrow we will 
surrender to you, and you can do to us whatever you please.” 

The next day, Saul divided the troops into three columns; at the morning 
watch they entered the camp and struck down the Ammonites until the day 
grew hot. The survivors scattered; no two were left together. 

The people then said to Samuel, “Who was it said, ‘Shall Saul be king over 
us?’ Hand the men over and we will put them to death!” But Saul replied, 
“No man shall be put to death this day! For this day the Lord has brought 
victory to Israel. ” 

Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and there inaugurate 
the monarchy.” So all the people went to Gilgal, and there at Gilgal they 
declared Saul king before the Lord. They offered sacrifices of well-being 
there before the Lord; and Saul and all the men of Israel held a great 
celebration there. 

This lost-and-now-recovered passage gives the background for 

Nahash’s attack on Jabesh-Gilead: Nahash, leading a resurgent 
Ammonite nation, had earlier reconquered land long claimed both by 
Ammon and by the Israelite tribes of Reuben and Gad east of the 
Jordan River. Nahash, in his own view, had resubjugated people 
occupying his own domain. Nahash therefore punished his old 


Israelite enemies (and sometime subjects) with a systematic policy of 
mutilation — gouging out the right eyes of all able-bodied men. In 
ancient times mutilation was the standard treatment for rebels, 
enemies of long standing and treaty violators. Examples of rebels or 
arch foes being blinded include the putting out of the eyes of Samson 
by the Philistines (Judges 16:21) and of Zedekiah by the Babylonians 
(2 Kings 25:7; Jeremiah 39:7; 52:11). Blinding as a punishment for 
rebels is also documented in the Assyrian annals. Mutilation or 
dismemberment for violation of treaty is also well documented in 

biblical and extrabiblical sources. 

26. A fragment of the book of Samuel from Qumran that contains a passage 
apparently inadvertently omitted from the Hebrew Bible in the course of 


Israel Antiquities Authority /Courtesy: Frank M. Cross 

Mutilation by blinding was not, however, the treatment due newly 
conquered subjects in a city lying outside the conqueror’s domain, 
like Jabesh-Gilead. The mutilation as recounted in the received text 
of Samuel has always been a puzzle for this reason. It is unmotivated. 

From the now-recovered passage we learn that Israelite warriors of 


Reuben and Gad who survived defeat at the hands of Nahash’s forces, 
some seven thousand in number, fled and found refuge north of the 
traditional border of Ammon (at the Jabbok River), in the Gileadite 
city of Jabesh. A month or so after their escape, Nahash determined 
to subjugate Jabesh-Gilead for sheltering his escaped “subjects.” This 
was Nahash’s motivation, or excuse, for striking at Jabesh-Gilead far 
north of his claimed borders, at a Gileadite city allied with Benjamin 
and Saul. 

Now we know not only why Nahash attacked Jabesh-Gilead, but also 
why he insisted on mutilation as a term of surrender. He insisted on 
the same harsh punishment that he had inflicted on the Israelites of 
Gad and Reuben, the gouging out of right eyes. Those who harbored 
enemies merited punishment equal to that inflicted on the enemy. 
But Nahash thereby sealed his own fate. Saul of Benjamin, enraged by 
news of the affair, and “seized by the spirit,” rallied elements of the 
western tribes, crossed the Jordan with an Israelite militia, and 
“slaughtered the Ammonites until the heat of day.” Saul’s great 
victory over Nahash at Jabesh-Gilead consolidated recognition of 
Saul’s kingship over all Israel and in the end sealed the Ammonites’ 
fate as well. 

Here is the account of the episode, with the additional passage 

retrieved from Qumran indicated in italics. The reader might try 
reading the unitalicized portion first, then the italicized portion, to 
appreciate how the newly found text illuminates the background of 


the received text. 

[Na] hash, king of the children of Ammon, sorely oppressed the children of 
Gad and the children of Reuben, and he gouged out a[ll] their right eyes 
and struck ter[ror and dread] in Israel. There was not left one among the 
children of Israel bey[ond the Jordan who]se right eye was no[t put o]ut by 
Naha[sh king] of the children of Ammon; except that seven thousand men 
[fled from] the children of[A]mmon and entered [J]abesh-Gilead. About a 
month later Nahash the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh-Gilead. All 
the men of Jabesh-Gilead said to Nahash, “Make a treaty with us and we 
shall become your subjects.” Nahash the Ammonite replied to them, “On 
this condition I shall make a treaty with you, that all your right eyes be 
gouged out, so that I may bring humiliation on all Israel.” The elders at 
Jabesh said to him, “Give us seven days to send messengers throughout the 
territory of Israel. If no one rescues us, we shall surrender to you. ” 

The missing paragraph was lost probably as a result of a scribal lapse 


— the scribe’s eye jumped from one line break to the other, both 
beginning with Nahash as subject. 

It has been suggested that the extra paragraph in this manuscript of 
Samuel is not part of the original composition but a late addition, a 

haggadic expansion. I see no evidence whatever for this. The added 
text gives rather flat historical “facts.” There is no edifying element, 
no theological bias, no theory the addition is trying to prove, no 
hortatory motif, in short no haggadic element that I can perceive. 

On the contrary, there are a number of telltale signs that the 
additional passage was in the original. For example, consider the 
following: In the received text of Samuel, the king of the Ammonites 
is introduced in his first appearance simply as “Nahash the 
Ammonite.” This is most extraordinary. In the books of Samuel and 
Kings there is otherwise an invariable pattern; when a reigning king 
of a foreign nation is introduced for the first time, his full or officii 
title is given, “So-and-so, king of So-and-so.” There are some twenty 
examples of this. The received text’s omission of Nahash’s full title is 
the sole exception to the practice. Indeed, the pattern obtains for the 
whole of the Deuteronomistic history (Deuteronomy, Joshua, 
Judges, Samuel, and Kings) and is violated in the received text only 

here. However, if the paragraph from 4QSam a is original, Nahash is 
introduced first as “king of the children of Ammon,” his full title, 
precisely in accord with the Deuteronomistic historian’s unvarying 
practice. This is a very strong argument for the originality of the 
passage in Samuel and its subsequent loss by simple scribal error. 

Incidentally, the Ammonite king’s official title as given in the newly 
found passage, “king of the children of Ammon,” appears on a 

recently discovered Ammonite inscription from Tell Siran. 

Now that we have this additional paragraph in our text of Samuel, 
we can recognize that Josephus had this paragraph in his Bible. In 
his Antiquities of the Jews (6. 68-70), Josephus vividly describes the 
background of the attack on Jabesh-Gilead, a description that he 
must have based on a passage in his Bible identical with the passage 
from Samuel that has now been recovered from Qumran Cave 4: 

However, a month later, he [Saul] began to win the esteem of all by the 
war with Naas [Nahash], king of the Ammonites. For this monarch had 
done much harm to the Jews who had setded beyond the river Jordan, 


having invaded their territory with a large and warlike army. Reducing 
their cities to servitude, he not only by force and violence secured their 
subjection in the present, but by cunning and ingenuity weakened them in 
order that they might never again be able to revolt and escape from 
servitude to him; for he cut out the right eyes of all who either surrendered 
to him under oath or were captured by right of war . . . Having then so 
dealt with the people beyond Jordan, the king of the Ammonites carried 
his arms against those called Galadenians [Gileadites] . Pitching his camp 
near the capital of his enemies, to wit Jabis [Jabesh], he sent envoys to 
them, bidding them instandy to surrender on the understanding that their 
right eyes would be put out: if not, he threatened to besiege and overthrow 
their cities: it was for them to choose, whether they preferred the cutting 
out of a small portion of the body, or to perish utterly. 

Obviously, Josephus is here paraphrasing the lost passage from 

In such ways do the Dead Sea Scrolls help us to restore a more 
original stage of the biblical text. 

Another major area of study that will be greatly affected by the 
manuscript discoveries in the Jordan Rift is the history of biblical 
religion — or perhaps we should say the development of biblical 

For example, we are now in a better position to compare the psalms 
of the canonical Psalter with the corpus of later Hellenistic hymns 
found at Qumran, especially in the collection of psalms from Cave 11; 
or we can describe the development of slave law in Persian Palestine 
on the basis of Samaria papyri. 

The impact of the discovery of the Qumran manuscripts has 
nowhere been greater than on our emerging view of the apocalyptic 
movement and its place in the history of late biblical religion. 

The term apocalyptic usually conjures up the book of Daniel, a late, 
full-blown exemplar of the apocalyptic literature. The Bible also 
contains a much earlier apocalypse in the book of Isaiah (chapters 
24-27), the date of which has been debated by several generations of 
biblical scholars. From Qumran, we now have an immense 
apocalyptic literature and works colored by apocalyptic 


As reflected in the Qumran literature, these apocalyptists saw world 


history in terms of warring forces, God and Satan, the spirits of truth 
and error, light and darkness. The struggle of God with man and the 
struggle of man with sin, evil, and death were objectified into a 
cosmic struggle. Dualistic themes from archaic myths were 
transformed into historical myths. The world, captive to evil powers 
and principalities that had been given authority in the era of divine 
wrath, could be freed only by the Divine Might. The apocalyptist saw 
— or believed he saw — the dawning of the day of God’s salvation and 
judgment. The old age had come to the end of its allotted time, and 
the age of consummation was at hand, the age when the world would 
be redeemed and the elect vindicated. The apocalyptist saw the 
signals of the approaching end of days. For him, the final war, 
Armageddon, had begun. The Messiah was about to appear “bringing 
the sword.” The Satanic forces, brought to bay, had already lashed 
out in a final defiant convulsion, manifested in the persecution, 
temptations, and tribulations of the faithful. In short, the 
apocalyptist lived in a world in which the sovereignty of God was the 
sole hope of salvation; in the earnestness of his faith and the 
vividness of his hope, he was certain that God was about to act. 

Apocalypticism has generally been regarded as a late, short-lived 
phenomenon in Judaism. This view is changing, however, in the 
light of massive new data and careful research utilizing old and new 
data. The earliest parts of the Enoch literature, for example, dated a 
generation ago to the Roman period (after 64 B.C.), or at the earliest 
to the late Hellenistic period (second or early first centuries B.C.), 
must now be pushed back in date to the late Persian period (fourth 
century B.C.). We actually have an Enoch manuscript — certainly not 
an autograph of the original — from about 200 B.C. Studies of early 
biblical apocalyptic (or protoapocalyptic) literature, notably the 
Isaianic apocalypse (Isaiah 24-27) have shown that it should be 
dated to the sixth century B.C. Indeed, the first strains of apocalyptic 
dualism and eschatology arise, I should argue, with the decline of 
classical prophecy in the sixth and fifth centuries B.C. And we must 
now recognize that protoapocalyptic works, together with later 
apocalyptic works, reflect a religious development spanning more 
than half a millennium in duration. 

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, apocalypticism 
figured little or not at all in scholars’ descriptions of the history of 
Israelite religion. Apocalypticism was treated as an idiosyncratic 
product of a few Jewish seers, a fringe phenomenon. 


For Christian scholars of the older view (which largely disregarded 
apocalypticism), biblical religion developed according to a dialectic 
in which the “free, ethical, and historical spirit” of prophetic 
religion was frozen in legalism whose “enslaving and static modes” 
marked post-Exilic religion. According to this view, the free and 
gracious spirit of prophecy reemerged only in New Testament 
Christianity. Hence, Christian scholars were inclined to bypass 
apocalyptic works in an attempt to trace continuities between 
prophecy and primitive Christianity. Older Jewish scholars shared 
the prevailing distaste for apocalyptic literature, viewing it as 
sectarian, even though a bit of it had slipped into the Hebrew canon. 
Influenced by the antiapocalyptic and anti-Gnostic reaction of 
rabbinic Judaism, Jewish scholars read back into Hellenistic- and 
even Persian-era Judaism the prevailing ethos of later rabbinic 
Judaism. As late as 1929, George Foote Moore wrote in his influential 
study of Judaism: “ . . . inasmuch as these writings [the apocalypses] 
have never been recognized by Judaism, it is a fallacy of method for 
the historian to make them a primary source for the eschatology of 

Judaism, much more, to contaminate its theology with them.” 

Thus, all joined hands in a conspiracy of silence on the subject of 

In the last generation, apocalypticism was rediscovered, so to speak, 
in its special import for the study of Christian origins. The rich 
resources from Qumran confirm and reinforce these new insights. 
Indeed, the study of Christian origins has been transformed by new 
data from the Qumran library. The pace of this new research will 
increase as new manuscripts are published. 

The movements of John the Baptist and of Jesus of Nazareth must 
now be redefined as apocalyptic rather than prophetic in their 
essential character. Gershom Scholem shocked my generation by his 
demonstration of the survivals of apocalyptic mysticism in the era of 
Rabbi Akiba (late first and second centuries of the Common Era). In 
the younger generation of scholars, I venture to say, these insights 
into the importance of apocalypticism for both early Judaism and 

primitive Christianity will be confirmed and extended. 

The apocalyptic communities of the last centuries B.C. were a major 
force in the complex matrix in which both Christianity and rabbinic 
Judaism were born. We are now beginning to recognize the enormous 


distance through which Judaism evolved, from the origins of the 
Pharisees in the multihued religious milieu of the Hellenistic era, 
down to the oral codification of the Mishnah (about 200 A.D.). This 
should not be surprising if we remember that in an even shorter 
period the Christian community moved from its Jewish sectarian 
origins in Jerusalem to Nicene orthodoxy in Constantine’s 

In my judgment, in the years ahead the apocalyptic movement will 
become recognized as a major phase in the evolution of biblical 
religion, flourishing between the death of prophecy in its 
institutionalized form in the sixth century B.C. and the rise of 
rabbinic Judaism, gentile Christianity, and Gnosticism in the first and 
second centuries of the Common Era. In this interval of more than 
five hundred years, Jewish apocalypticism was a mainstream of 
religious life as well as speculation. Nonap ocalyp tic strains existed 
alongside apocalypticism, of course. But there can be no question 
that the apocalyptic movement was one of the ancestors of both 
Pharisaic Judaism and Jewish Christianity, as well as of the Gnostic 
syncretism that characterized both movements in the first centuries 
of the Common Era. 

I venture to predict that the descriptions of the Jewish parties of the 
Hellenistic and Roman periods to be written for our histories and 
handbooks will become far more complex and nuanced, replacing the 
simple, neat images of the past. The Sadducees whom we have 
pictured as religious conservatives and worldly bureaucrats now 

prove to have spawned a radical apocalyptic wing at Qumran. The 
Pharisees also appear to have been variegated within their 
communes ( haburot in Hebrew), accepting in their canon such 
apocalyptic works as Deutero-Zechariah and Daniel, though rejecting 
such others as Enoch and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. 
By and large, the Pharisees appear to have been dominated by 
moderates. Their radical elements broke off to join in the Zealot 
movement. Their conservative members were overcome by the 
school of Hillel. 

The discoveries in the Jordan Rift, especially at Qumran, have 
initiated a new era in the study of the history of late biblical religion 
and of Jewish sectarianism. The assimilation of the new data will be 
slow. Older scholars will prefer to ignore the new materials: The 
ferment they produce is too strong for their stomachs. I listened to 


the late Yigael Yadin read diatribes against his colleagues accusing 
them of ignoring the Temple Scroll he published. Of course, it is 
uncomfortable to be told that here is a new scroll — go rewrite all 
your books. Or, “Here is a new Jewish library of the third to first 
centuries B.C.; examine all your old presuppositions, retool, and start 
afresh.” New directions in research will rest largely on a young 
generation of scholars. I envy those who will live to read the new 
syntheses the future will bring. 

*See Chapter 11. 

*The name of Nahash has often been taken as meaning “snake,” a not 
inappropriate appellation. In fact, it is a shortened term (nickname) 
of Nahash-tob, meaning “good luck ” — mazzal tob in modern Hebrew. 

* Brackets record lacunae in the manuscript, reconstructed by the writer. 

*The term haggadah is used by the rabbis for those materials containing 
the interpretation of Scripture, ordinarily exclusive of legal 

*The term apocalyptic in its strict sense means “pertaining to an 
apocalypse,” a salient genre of the literature of the religious 
movement described below. Apocalypse means “revelation” in Greek 
and came to apply to the revelation of last things (eschatological 
events) to a seer, e.g., the apocalypse of John, commonly called the 
Revelation of John. We shall use the term apocalyptic in a wider 
sense, to designate a religious movement marked by an eschatological 
viewpoint found inter alia in the apocalypses. 

*See Chapter 3. 





This chapter illustrates how the Dead Sea Scrolls are used 
tangentially, as part of the solution to a biblical crux. The subject 
is not the Dead Sea Scrolls, but a strange story in Genesis in which 
the "Sons of God" come down and have sexual relations with 
beautiful earth-bound women. We are treated to a brilliant, wide- 
ranging exegesis of the puzzling story by a rising star among 
biblical scholars, Ronald S. Hendel of Southern Methodist 

The first question Hendel considers is what is meant by the term 
Sons of God. To understand it, Hendel turns to other biblical 
passages, including one which, in the Hebrew Bible, refers to the 
"sons of Israel" (Deuteronomy 32:8). But in the Hebrew text of 
Deuteronomy 32:8 found at Qumran, this passage reads not "sons 
of Israel," but ", Sons of God," the same phrase that appears in the 
Genesis story. This makes the passage in Deuteronomy relevant to 
Hendel’s interpretation of the story of the "Sons of God" who came 
down and slept with earthly women. 


If someone asked you to name the origin of a story about gods who 
take human wives and then give birth to a race of semidivine heroes, 


you might answer: It’s a Greek myth, or perhaps a Norse legend, or 
maybe a folktale from Africa or India. Surely this story couldn’t come 
from the sacred scriptures of Judaism and Christianity. Or could it? 

In fact, it is one of the seldom-told stories in the Hebrew Bible. The 
passage from Genesis 6:1-4 is short enough to quote in full: 

When mankind began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters 

were born to them, the Sons of God saw that the daughters of men were 
beautiful, and they took wives of them, from any whom they chose. And 

Yahweh said, “My spirit will not be strong in man forever, for indeed he 
is but flesh. His lifetime will be 120 years.” The Nephilim were on the 
earth in those days, and also afterwards, when the Sons of God mated with 
the daughters of men and they bore children for them: these were the 
heroes of old, the men of renown. 

For thousands of years this story has scandalized readers of the Bible, 
and for good reason. The story appears to go against the grain of our 
traditional understanding of biblical religion. 

But the story is there, and since it is, perhaps our traditional 
understanding is what’s wrong. Perhaps, to paraphrase Hamlet, there 
are more things in the Bible than are dreamt of in our philosophy. 

Let us look more closely. 

In the past, many scholars have simply dismissed the story as a kind 
of biblical aberration. The reaction of the great nineteenth-century 
scholar Julius Wellhausen is typical; he characterized the story as “a 

cracked erratic boulder.”- Like a cracked boulder, it might best be 
just hauled away. 

Early Jewish and Christian commentators were also perplexed by the 
story. Since it was already anchored in the holy text, the only way to 
avoid the unpleasant implications of gods and humans marrying and 
having offspring was to provide an interpretation that would render 
it more palatable. The early rabbis therefore understood the phrase 
bene ha’elohim to refer not to “the Sons of God,” but to righteous 
men. The Church Fathers, on the other hand, interpreted the phrase 
as a reference to the descendants of Seth, who was born of Adam and 
Eve after Cain killed Abel (“Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a 
son and named him ‘Seth’ meaning ‘God has provided me with 
another offspring in place of Abel’” Genesis 4:25). In this way both 


the early Jewish and the early Christian interpreters avoided the 
problem of the polytheistic implications suggested by the “Sons of 
God.” Neither of these early interpretations is supported by the 
evidence. They simply illustrate how early interpreters tried to tame 
this troublesome text. 

How are we to understand the story? Amorous gods, beautiful 
women, sex, curses, and fame — it has all the elements of a successful 
soap opera, with mythic motifs thrown in for good measure. Is there 
enough here to understand — or is the story too cryptic, too broken? 

I believe the text can be understood, but only by following a trail of 
clues that will lead us to other texts in the Hebrew Bible and other 
ancient mythologies. 

The first stop in our investigative trail is to ascertain the identity of 
“the Sons of God.” This is relatively easy. The Sons of God (Hebrew, 
bene ha’elohim) are known from several texts in the Hebrew Bible. In 
Job 1:6 and 2:1, the Sons of God present themselves to Yahweh in the 
heavenly divine assembly. Later, in Job 38:7, we learn that the Sons 
of God have been with Yahweh at the creation of the world; when 
they see what God has wrought “The Sons of God shout[ed] for joy.” 

The Sons of God (Hebrew, bene ’elim ) again appear at Yahweh’s 
divine assembly in Psalm 89:7, where Yahweh’s incomparability 
among the gods is proclaimed. A similar scene is found in Psalm 29:1, 

where the Sons of God (Hebrew, bene ’elim) sing praises to Yahweh. 

Perhaps the most intriguing reference to the Sons of God is in the 
famous Song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32, just before Moses ascends 
Mt. Nebo to die without entering the Promised Land. Deuteronomy 
32:8 contains what is apparently an old mythological reference to the 
early history of humanity. The traditional Hebrew text reads: “When 
the Most High apportioned the nations, when he divided the sons of 
man, he established the borders of the peoples according to the 
number of the sons of Israel.” 

The sense of this passage is fairly clear until one comes to the last 
phrase. How can the borders of the peoples (including non-Israelite 
nations) be established according to the number of the sons of Israel? 
Has Israel already been established? Not yet, according to the sense of 
the text. There is something wrong in this passage: The end 
contradicts the beginning. 


The contradiction does not appear in all Bibles, however. Look at the 
Revised Standard Versions (RSV), for example. There we read in 
Deuteronomy 32:8 that the borders of the peoples (or nations) are 
fixed, not according to the number of the sons of Israel, but 
“according to the number of the Sons of God.” This reading is based 
on the Greek Septuagint, a Bible translation made in the third century 
B.C. for Jews living in Alexandria who could not read Hebrew. The 
modern RSV translators decided that in this case the Septuagint, 
rather than the received Hebrew text (the Masoretic text), has 

preserved the original reading. Bible translations that adhere to the 
received Hebrew text, however, read “sons of Israel” instead of “Sons 
of God.” 

Recently a fragmentary text from among the Dead Sea Scrolls was 
found to contain Deuteronomy 32:8. Written in late Herodian script 
(late first century B.C. to early first century A.D.), this fragment is 
now our earliest Hebrew text of Deuteronomy 32:8; the last phrase in 
the verse in this fragment clearly reads “the Sons of God,” not “the 
sons of Israel.” This reading, preserved in Greek in the Septuagint but 
not in the received Hebrew text, seems rather clearly to be the 
authentic original reading. 

Apparently, somewhere along the line in the transmission of the 
standard rabbinic Bible someone felt the need to clean up the text by 
literally rewriting it and substituting “sons of Israel” for the original 
“Sons of God” in Deuteronomy 32:8. 

Now that we have established the correct text of Deuteronomy 32:8, 
we can use it to complete our portrait of the Sons of God. According 
to this passage in Deuteronomy, the Sons of God were not only 
present at the beginning of the world, but also figure importantly in 
the division of the nations. According to the following verse, Yahweh 
chose Israel as his own portion, implying that each of the other 
deities, the Sons of God, also received a nation to rule over. This 
would make sense of the division of the nations according to the 
number of the Sons of God. We can see in this passage an indication 
that the Sons of God at one time played a far more important role in 
the early history of humanity than is generally remembered in the 
biblical traditions. 


27. Hebrew fragment of Deuteronomy 32 : 8 containing the term "Sons of God.” 

Israel Antiquities Authority /Permission of Julie Duncan and Frank M. Cross 

For even earlier history of the Sons of God, we have to look outside 
the Hebrew Bible. As with many other elements of Israel’s religious 
traditions, the ancestry of the concept of the Sons of God can be 
traced to pre-Israelite Canaanite traditions. Especially valuable in this 
regard are the fourteenth-century B.C. Canaanite texts written in 
cuneiform on clay tablets. Discovered in 1928 at the ancient city of 

Ugarit on the Syrian coast, these texts provide a wealth of 
information about the society, religion, and narrative traditions of 
Canaan in the period before the emergence of Israel. 

In the myths, epics, and ritual texts from Ugarit, the phrase the Sons 


of God ( barm ili or banu ili-mi) occurs frequently. In the Canaanite 
pantheon, the chief god is El, whose name literally means “God.” He 
and his wife Asherah are the father and mother of the gods. The 
phrase the Sons of God can be translated literally as “the Sons (or 
children) of El.” 

The bene ’elim are found not only in Ugaritic texts, but also in 

Phoenician inscriptions of the eighth to seventh centuries B.C. and 
in an Ammonite inscription of the ninth century recently found in 

Amman, Jordan. So the concept of the Sons of God pervades 
Canaanite lore over an extended period of time. 

The Canaanite roots of the Sons of God allow us a glimpse into the 
antiquity of these figures and make it clear that these are indeed 
divine beings. The Israelite use of the term derives from the body of 
traditional lore inherited from the Canaanites. The concept of the 
Sons of God as well as the stories about them doubtless goes back to 
Canaanite time. 

In Israelite tradition the Sons of God are the lesser deities who 

accompany Yahweh in his heavenly assembly. Their sphere of 
activity is restricted in comparison to that of their Canaanite 
forebears; this, of course, is due to the fact that in Israelite worship 
Yahweh had subsumed the essential functions of the other gods. Only 
in a few passages are the activities of the Sons of God prominent. 
These passages, especially Genesis 6:1-4 and Deuteronomy 32:8, 
reflect traditions that are quite early. Indeed, these two passages 
would be quite at home among the Ugaritic mythological texts, 
except that the chief god is Yahweh rather than El! 

Let us turn now from the Sons of God to the offspring produced 
when they united with the daughters of men, as described in Genesis 
6:1-4. Although the language of the text is a bit choppy, it 
nevertheless seems clear that the offspring are referred to as the 
Nephilim. These Nephilim are described as the “heroes of old, the 
men of renown.” Who are the Nephilim? 

Nephilim literally means “the fallen ones.” In Hebrew the word is a 
common euphemism for “the dead.” (For example, Jeremiah 6:15 
tell us, “They will fall among the fallen [Hebrew, nopelim].”') 


In Ezekiel 32:27, we read of the Nephilim as warriors who have 

They lie with the warriors, 

The Nephilim of old, 
who descended to Sheol 
with their weapons of war. 

Elsewhere in biblical tradition the Nephilim are described as the 
giants who were native inhabitants of Canaan. In the report Moses’ 
advance scouts give of their foray into Canaan (Numbers 13:33), they 
advise Moses: “All the people whom we saw in its midst were people 
of great size; there we saw the Nephilim — the Anaqim are part of the 
Nephilim — and we seemed in our own eyes like grasshoppers, and so 
we must have seemed in their eyes.” 

In Deuteronomy 2:11 the giant Anaqim — part of the Nephilim — are 
also called Rephaim, a more general term for the giant native 
inhabitants of Canaan. Two of the most famous of the Rephaim are 
King Og of Bashan, whose huge iron bed could still be seen on display 
in Rabbah of Ammon (Deuteronomy 3:11), and the giant warrior 
Goliath, who is described as descended from the Raphah in Gath (2 

Samuel 21:19ff). 10 

The Nephilim thus appear to be a race of heroes who lived both 
before the Flood and in Canaan before the Israelites conquered the 
Promised Land. In these eras, the Nephilim end up, as their name 
suggests, as “the dead ones.” The Rephaim and Anaqim are said to 

have been wiped out by Joshua, Moses, and Caleb, though some 

stragglers remained to be slain by David and his men. In Joshua 
11:22, we are told that “No Anaqim remained in the land of Israel, 
but some remained in Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod.” 

The function of the Nephilim-Rephaim-Anaqim, the giant demigods 
— half god, half human — is constant in all these traditions. They exist 
in order to be wiped out: by the Flood, by Moses, by David and 

others. 1 The function of the Nephilim in Israelite tradition is to 


die. As we have already noted, Nephilim actually means “the fallen 
ones.” The connection between death and the Nephilim appears to be 
basic to the several forms of the tradition. 

I believe that in the original version of the mating story in Genesis 
6:1-4, the Nephilim were destroyed by the Flood; indeed they were 
the cause of the Flood. To understand this argument, however, we 
must explore the Mesopotamian flood story, which is obviously 
related in some way to the flood story preserved in the Bible. 

In the Mesopotamian flood story, the gods’ motive for the flood, as 
we now know from the Old Babylonian myth of Atrahasis, is a 
cosmic imbalance between the human world and the divine world; 
the human world is overpopulated with humans, and the gods cannot 

sleep because of the noise. 

... the people multiplied, 

the land was bellowing like a bull. 

At their uproar the god became angry; 

Enlil heard their noise. 

He addressed the great gods, 

“The noise of mankind has become oppressive to me. 

Because of their uproar I am deprived of sleep.” 

In this primeval era, according to Babylonian understanding, humans 
live forever; this is what has created the overpopulation. People can 
still die from violence or starvation, but natural death has not yet 
been instituted. After other efforts at population control fail, Enlil 
decrees the flood, which will kill all humans and take care of the 
noise problem — Enlil’s final solution. 

However, Enlil’s wily adversary, the god Enki, attempts to thwart 
Enlil’s plan. Enki advises an “exceedingly wise” man named Atrahasis 
to build an ark for himself and his family, together with a menagerie 
of animals, in order to survive the flood. When the flood recedes, and 
Atrahasis and his family have survived, the gods Enlil and Enki have 


a showdown. Finally, they agree on an acceptable compromise, 
suggested by Enki, to control the size of human population: People 

will henceforth die natural deaths. 

Natural death becomes the fate of humanity. This is the solution to 
the cosmic imbalance that brought on the flood in the Babylonian 
account of the flood. 

In the story in Genesis 6:1-4, the divine response to the cosmic 
imbalance represented by the Sons of God mating with the daughters 
of men is likewise to limit human lifespan: “My spirit will not be 
strong in man forever [says Yahweh in Genesis 6:3], for indeed, he is 
but flesh. His lifetime will be 120 years.” 

The punishment, a decree of a limited lifespan, is directed at 
humans, however, not at the Nephilim. 

I believe that originally, in early Israelite tradition, the motive for the 
Flood was the destruction of the Nephilim. The sexual mingling of 
the Sons of God and the daughters of men created a cosmic imbalance 
and a confusion in the cosmic order. The birth of the demigods 
threatened the fabric of the cosmos. The natural response in myth, as 
exemplified by the Babylonian flood tradition, was to suppress the 
imbalance by destroying its cause. In the Atrahasis myth, humanity 
is destroyed so that its noise would be eliminated. The natural 
conclusion of Genesis 6:1-4, according to the logic of the myth, is the 
deluge — the destruction of humanity, and the concomitant 
annihilation of the disorder. The cosmic imbalance is resolved by a 
great destruction out of which a new order arises. 

In Genesis 6:1-4 as it has come down to us, however, the conclusion 
of the old myth has been transformed. The Flood is no longer the 
result of the Sons of God mating with the daughters of men. The 
conclusion of the myth has been detached from the Flood narrative 
(though it still immediately follows it, beginning in Genesis 6:5), and 
a new motive has been supplied in the biblical account. The motive 
in Genesis 6:5-8 is the increase of mankind’s evil on the earth, not 
the increase of population (as in the Babylonian myth), nor the 
mixing of gods and mortals (as was originally the case in the myth 
partially preserved in Genesis 6:1-4). 

Note the parallel use of the word multiply at the beginning of the 
mating myth (Genesis 6:1-4) and the beginning of the Flood story 


that follows, beginning in Genesis 6:5. The story of the mating of the 
Sons of God with the daughters of men begins: “When mankind began 
to multiply on the face of the earth” (Genesis 6:1). The Flood story 
begins: “Yahweh saw that the evil of mankind multiplied on 

earth.” J In Genesis 6:1-4, the problem is the mating between gods 
and humans. In the Flood story it is human evil. The parallel use of 
“multiply on earth” suggests a parallel construction introducing 
cosmic imbalance. In Genesis 6:1-4, it is the mating of gods and 
humans; in the Genesis Flood story, it is human evil. In the 
Babylonian flood story, it is overpopulation. 

The ethical nature of the biblical Flood story is highlighted by this 
change in motive — in the Bible, the flood is brought on not by the 
cosmic imbalance caused by human overpopulation, but by the evil 
engaged in by humankind. The new motive for the Flood is found in 
Genesis 6:5-7: 

Yahweh saw that the evil of mankind had multiplied on the earth, and that 
all the thoughts of his heart were only evil continually. And Yahweh 
repented that he had created mankind, and he was grieved in his heart. 
Yahweh said, “I will wipe out mankind, whom I created, from the face of 
the earth . . .” 

By truncating the original ending of the story in Genesis 6:1-4 from 
its logical sequel — the flood that would eliminate the cosmic 
imbalance of gods mating with humans — the story of the Sons of God 
taking wives of the daughters of men becomes simply one example of 
man’s evil inclination. Similar stories in the Primeval Cycle precede 
the Flood story in Genesis. Thus, a new motive for the great 
destruction of the Flood is presented; the story of the Sons of God and 
the daughters of men has been rearranged and no longer serves as the 
primary motive for the great destruction. 

While the Nephilim appear to die in the Flood, they are still around 
later; they die in another great destruction, the Israelite conquest of 
the Promised Land. These great destructions bring to an end a 
“primeval” era: before the Flood and before Israel. In both of these 

primeval eras, the Nephilim are doomed to die. 

The story of the Sons of God mating with the daughters of men is 
thus understandable on its own, transposed as it is, and is also 
understandable as a part of a carefully crafted larger whole — the cycle 
of stories leading up to the Flood. This cycle itself feeds into the 


stories of the patriarchs and the narration of the covenant between 
Yahweh and Israel. 

The Primeval Cycle in Genesis is characterized by a series of 
mythological transgressions of boundaries that result in a range of 
divine responses. Slowly these responses build up to a new ordering 
of the cosmos. The mixing of gods and mortals in Genesis 6:1-4 is 
mirrored by the mixing of the divine and the human in the Garden of 
Eden story, in which humans desire to “be as gods, knowing good and 
evil” (Genesis 3:5,22), another cosmic imbalance. As a result, Adam 
and Eve are expelled from the Garden. Similarly, in the Tower of 
Babel story, where humans want to build “a tower with its top in 
heaven” (Genesis 11:4), they are divinely punished by a confusion of 
tongues. In Genesis 6:1-4 the bounds between divine and human are 
also breached, and the result is the decree of the limit of man’s 
lifespan to one hundred and twenty years. The basic pattern persists. 

The stories proceed in a dialectical fashion, generating oppositions 
and resolving them, all the while sketching a transition from a 
mythical “nature” to human “culture,” from an era when humans are 
naked and immortal to an era of clothing, mortality, hard labor, and 
nations — the era of the present world. Genesis 6:1-4 fits snugly into 
this context — the repetition of mythological transgressions of 
boundaries and the slow building up of the limitation of the human 

' The Hebrew word for “God” is ’Elohim. In other Semitic languages, and 
occasionally in Hebrew, this word means “gods” in the plural. The 
general usage in Hebrew is in the singular, referring to Yahweh, the 
God of Israel. The singular usage is clear in these contexts, since 
’Elohim takes a singular verb, as in this passage. Why the plural form 
was originally used to signify the single god, Yahweh, is unclear. 
Probably the shift in religious belief from the worship of a pantheon 
of gods to the worship of a single god is involved. In a sense we 
might say that, for the Israelites, Yahweh takes over the functions of 
the whole pantheon. Here we have the transition from “gods” to 
“god.” The “Sons of God” still exist in Israelite mythology, but they 
are no longer the object of worship and of the cult. 

*The Hebrew form ’elim is a variant form of ’elohim, “God.” The — oh — in 
’elohim is a particle that originally added an emphatic or 
particularizing quality to the plural form ’elim. 

*See “An Appreciation of Claude Frederic-Armand Schaeffer-Forrer 
(1898-1982),” by James M. Robinson, and “The Last Days of Ugarit,” 


by Claude F. A. Schaeffer, Biblical Archaeology Review, 
September/October 1983. See also the review of Ugarit and the Old 
Testament by Peter C. Craigie in the same issue. 

*The crucial passage has recently been restored: 

Enki opened his mouth 

and addressed Nintu, the birth-goddess, 

“[You], birth-goddess, creatress of destinies, 

[create death] for the peoples.” 

[For the restorations in this text, see W. G. Lambert, “The Theology of 
Death” in Death in Mesopotamia, B. Alster, ed. (Copenhagen: Akademisk, 
1980), pp. 54-58. The restorations are based on the Gilgamesh Epic, 
tablet 10, column 6, lines 28-32, where the gods’ decree of human 
mortality after the flood is recalled.] 

*This double dimension of the Nephilim need not disturb us once we 
understand the essential fluidity of mythological traditions. Just as 
Goliath can be killed by Elhanan (2 Samuel 21:19) or by David (1 
Samuel 17) in different stories, so the Nephilim can be destroyed by 
the Flood or by the conquest. In either case, the semidivine Nephilim 
are no longer here in the present world. They are “the fallen ones.” 








This chapter is a masterful survey of the relationship between the 
Dead Sea ScroUs and early Christianity by James VanderKam. 

VanderKam first considers some of the more extreme claims that 
place Jesus’ brother James at Qumran, or that identify Paul and 
even Jesus as the Wicked Priest of the Qumran texts, or that argue 
that books of the New Testament have been found at Qumran. 

VanderKam then discusses some of the many similarities between 
the Qumran covenanters and the early Christians, for example, in 
their rituals and community practices. In this connection he asks 
whether there is any relationship between the community meals at 
Qumran and the Last Supper. 

VanderKam also looks at the similarities in texts— for example, 
between the Sermon on the Mount and Qumran documents — and 
treats doctrinal similarities between the Qumran covenanters and 
early Christians. 

His conclusion: We now better understand the Jewish soil out of 
which the early Church emerged. Moreover, we now understand 
that many of the beliefs and practices of the early Church that 
were once thought to be unique were in many cases prefigured at 



Almost from the moment the first Dead Sea Scrolls came under 
scholarly scrutiny, the question of their relation to early Christianity 
became a key issue. 

The early days of Qumran research produced some spectacular 
theories regarding the relationship among Jesus, the first Christians, 
and the Qumran community. In 1950 the French scholar Andre 
Dupont-Sommer argued that the Teacher of Righteousness — the 
founder and first leader of the Qumran group according to the scrolls 
— had a career that prefigured and paralleled that of Jesus: 

The Galilean Master, as He is presented to us in the writings of the New 
Testament, appears in many respects as an astonishing reincarnation of the 
Master of Justice [that is, the Teacher of Righteousness, as the title came to 
be translated]. Like the latter He preached penitence, poverty, humility, 
love of one’s neighbour, chastity. Like him, He prescribed the observance 
of the Law of Moses, the whole Law, but the Law finished and perfected, 
thanks to His own revelations. Like him He was the Elect and Messiah of 
God, the Messiah redeemer of the world. Like him He was the object of the 
hostility of the priests, the party of the Sadducees. Like him He was 
condemned and put to death. Like him He pronounced judgement on 
Jerusalem, which was taken and destroyed by the Romans for having put 
Him to death. Like him, at the end of time, He will be the supreme judge. 
Like him He founded a Church whose adherents fervently awaited His 

glorious return. 

Dupont-Sommer’s speculations strongly influenced Edmund Wilson, 
the literary critic who wrote the famous New Yorker article (later 
published as a best-selling book) “The Scrolls from the Dead Sea,” 
which stimulated great popular interest in and controversy about the 


scrolls. Wilson argued that the relation of the covenanters of 
Qumran to Jesus and the first Christians could be seen as “the 

successive phases of a movement” : 

The monastery, this structure of stone that endures, between the bitter 
waters and precipitous cliffs, with its oven and its inkwells, its mill and its 
cesspool, its constellation of sacred fonts and the unadorned graves of its 
dead, is perhaps, more than Bethlehem or Nazareth, the cradle of 


According to Wilson, Jewish and Christian scholars were reluctant to 


admit the implications of the scrolls because of their religious biases. 
Jewish scholars were supposedly anxious lest the authority of the 
Masoretic text (the traditional Jewish text of the Hebrew Bible) be 
shaken, especially by the variant readings in the biblical texts found 
at Qumran. Jews would also be uncomfortable, he suggested, if 
Christianity were seen, as the scrolls indicated, as a natural 
development from a particular brand of Judaism. Christianity too 
was supposedly threatened by the content of the scrolls: The 
uniqueness of Christ was imperiled. In an oft-quoted passage the 
iconoclastic Wilson concluded: 

[I] t would seem an immense advantage for cultural and social intercourse 
— that is, for civilization — that the rise of Christianity should, at last, be 
generally understood as simply an episode of human history rather than 
propagated as dogma and divine revelation. The study of the Dead Sea 
Scrolls — with the direction it is now taking — cannot fail, one would think, 

to conduce this. 

At the same time other scholars were going about the patient labor of 
establishing just where the points of contact and difference were. 
Millar Burrows of Yale, for example, embraced a minimalist thesis in 

his widely used The Dead Sea Scrolls. Against those who claimed the 
scrolls would revolutionize New Testament study, he wrote: “There 
is no danger, however, that our understanding of the New Testament 
will be so revolutionized by the Dead Sea Scrolls as to require a 
revision of any basic article of Christian faith. All scholars who have 
worked on the texts will agree that this has not happened and will 

not happen.” 

In a less pastoral vein, Burrows stated his view of the relationship 
between the Qumran sect and early Christians in these words: 

Direct influence of the Qumran sect on the early church may turn out to be 
less probable than parallel developments in the same general situation. 
The question here is the same one encountered when we attempt to explain 
similarities between Judaism and Zoroastrianism, or between Christianity 

and the pagan mystery cults. 

As matters developed, this viewpoint has largely set the general 
framework within which the relationship between Qumran and 
Christianity is still understood today. Many Qumran scholars would 
agree with Burrows’s conclusion: “[Ajfter studying the Dead Sea 


Scrolls for seven years, I do not find my understanding of the New 
Testament substantially affected. Its Jewish background is clearer and 
better understood, but its meaning has neither been changed nor 

significantly clarified.”* 

Under the title The Scrolls and the New Testament, Krister Stendahl of 
Harvard collected thirteen detailed studies of the sect by eleven 
different scholars (one man wrote three) examining the major 

similarities between the Qumran sect and early Christianity. None 
of Dupont-Sommer’s writings was selected for inclusion. In his 
perceptive introductory essay, Stendahl concluded: “It is true to say 
that the Scrolls add to the background of Christianity, but they add so 
much that we arrive at a point where the significance of similarities 
definitely rescues Christianity from false claims of originality in the 
popular sense and leads us back to a new grasp of its true foundation 

in the person and the events of its Messiah,” J a conclusion with 
which I agree. 

One of the most influential books about Qumran was written by 
Frank M. Cross, also of Harvard. In The Ancient Library of Qumran 
and Modern Biblical Studies, Cross lays special stress on the Essenes (a 
Jewish movement of which the Qumran group was a part) as bearers 
and producers of the Jewish apocalyptic tradition and on the 
importance of this tradition for early Christianity: 

The background of the institutions and patterns typical of the communal 
life of the earliest Church in an earlier apocalyptic milieu can now be 
investigated seriously for the first time. The Essene literature [from 
Qumran] enables us to discover the concrete Jewish setting in which an 
apocalyptic understanding of history was living and integral to communal 
existence. Like the primitive Church, the Essene community was 
distinguished from Pharisaic associations and other movements within 
Judaism precisely in its consciousness “of being already the called and 

chosen Congregation of the end of days .” 1 Contrary to the tendency of 
New Testament theologians to assume that the “eschatological existence” of 
the early Church, that is, its community life lived in anticipation of the 
Kingdom of God, together with the forms shaped by this life, was a 
uniquely Christian phenomenon, we must now affirm that in the Essene 

communities we discover antecedents of Christian forms and concepts. 

Within this general framework Cross then considers parallels in three 
areas: in theological language (especially in John), in eschatological 


motifs (especially in the way Scripture was interpreted to refer to 
their own time, but also in their understanding of themselves as 
people of the new covenant and their messianic outlook) and in their 
order and liturgical institutions (baptism, liturgical meals, 
community of goods, leadership). In each case, the Qumran 
covenanters and early Christians shared essential viewpoints. 

In 1966 a German scholar, Herbert Braun, published a two-volume 
work entitled Qumran und das Neue Testament containing a chainlike 
treatment of all New Testament passages, from Matthew through 

Revelation, for which a Qumran parallel arguably exists. The book 
totals 326 pages of rather small print. Naturally these parallels vary in 
quality and importance, but, whatever the limits of the collection, 
the sheer quantity is certainly impressive. 

In sum, as Qumran research has matured, it has been widely 
recognized that, although there were major differences between the 
Qumran literature and early Christian literature and between the 
Qumran community and the early Christian community, 
nevertheless, they were also remarkably similar in theological 
vocabulary, in some major doctrinal tenets, and in several 
organizational and ritual practices. Yet, most scholars were reluctant 
to explain early Christian teachings as direct borrowings from 
Qumran Essenism. The better view is that the two are offspring of a 
common tradition in Judaism, with perhaps some points of direct 

borrowing (especially organizational ones). As more of the scrolls 
have been published, this general conclusion has been substantially 

True, even today a scholar here and there departs from this mainline 
view. For example, Robert Eisenman of California State University at 
Long Beach has posited a Zadokite movement, of which the Qumran 
community was a part, that supposedly existed for centuries and 
included Ezra, Judas Maccabee, John the Baptist, Jesus, and his 

brother James ; only in the first century A.D. did this movement 
become a separate group and compose the sectarian documents of 
Qumran. Barbara Thiering of the University of Sydney in Australia 
has identified John the Baptist as the Teacher of Righteousness and 

Jesus as the Wicked Priest of the Qumran texts. J. L. Teicher of 
Cambridge University argues, on the other hand, that the apostle 


Paul is the Wicked Priest. Few, if any, scholars have been 
convinced by the arguments adduced by Eisenman, Thiering, or 
Teicher, but the popular press has sometimes given their sensational 

views widespread coverage. 

Let’s look more closely at some of the significant similarities between 
the New Testament and the Qumran literature and assess them. But 
before doing so, two thoughts should be expressed: 

First, we must appreciate the insights provided by the Qumran 
literature in light of the paucity of any other Hebrew or Aramaic 
literature contemporary with the beginnings of Christianity. The 
books of the Hebrew Bible are, in almost all cases, considerably 
earlier. The vast corpus of rabbinic texts was written centuries later. 
Before the Qumran discoveries, most of the first-century 
comparative material for studying early Christianity came from 
Greek and Latin sources. The sudden availability of an entire library 
of Hebrew and Aramaic texts dating from approximately the time of 
the New Testament events has naturally, and rightfully, captured the 
attention of New Testament scholars. 

Second, proving direct dependence of something in the New 
Testament on an item in the scrolls is no simple task. Even now we 
know very little about the various groups of Jews in the last 
centuries of the Second Temple period. (The Second Temple was 
destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D.) Even if we show that the only 
places where a particular item or concept is found are the New 
Testament and the Qumran texts, this would not prove either a direct 
borrowing or that the feature was unique to these two groups. The 
feature may have been shared more widely, with most of its 
attestation now lost. Given these limitations, we can, at most, do little 
more than isolate areas where Christians and Essenes agreed and all 
other known groups seem to have disagreed. 

One of the clearest examples of the insights the Qumran literature 
can provide for New Testament literature relates to language and 
verbal formulas. The New Testament is written in Greek. Jesus, 
however, spoke Aramaic, and all of the first disciples were Semitic- 
speaking Jews of Galilee or Judea. The Qumran texts now supply us, 
for the first time, with the original Hebrew (and sometimes Aramaic) 
of a number of New Testament words and phrases. 


Take the Greek expression ton pleionon, which is usually translated 
“many” or “majority.” This is a very general term that became, in 
several New Testament passages, a designation for entire groups of 
Jesus’ followers (Matthew 26:28; see also Mark 14:24; [cf. Luke 
22:20]; Acts 6:2,5; 15:12,30; 2 Corinthians 2:5-6). For example, Paul 
writes to the Corinthians: “But if anyone has caused pain, he has 
caused it not to me, but in some measure — not to put it too severely 
— to you all. For such a one as this punishment by the majority [ ton 
pleionon] is enough” (2 Corinthians 2:5-6). The Qumran scroll 
known as the Manual of Discipline (IQS) contains rules regarding 
who may speak and when during general meetings of the group: “And 
in an Assembly of the Congregation no man shall speak without the 
consent of the Congregation, nor indeed of the Guardian of the 

Congregation” (Manual of Discipline 6:11-12). The Hebrew word 
translated “congregation” in this passage is hrbym (vocalized, with 
vowels, as harabbim), which literally means “the many.” In short, 
hrbym is the Hebrew word that lies behind the New Testament Greek 
ton pleionon. 

There may be another example in this same passage. The Hebrew 
word rendered “guardian” ( hmbqr ) in this passage (and others where 
it refers to a man who has a supervisory role in the Qumran 

community ) may be the equivalent of episkopos (bishop /overseer), 
which is used several times in the New Testament (Philippians 1:1; 1 
Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:7), where it also refers to a man with a 
similar role. 

With the help of the scrolls we can uncover the Hebrew or Aramaic 
originals of several other expressions in the New Testament, not only 
in the Gospels, but in the Pauline corpus as well. Joseph Fitzmyer, of 
Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., has identified 
the Semitic original of a number of Pauline expressions of this kind: 
The righteousness of God ( dikaiosyne theou = sidqat ’el), works of 

the Law (erga nomou = ma c aseh torah), the church of God (he 
ekklesia tou theou = gehal ’el), and Sons of Light (huloi photos = 

bene ’or). 

Can we go further? Is it possible that a fragment of a gospel has been 
found at Qumran? The Qumran settlement was destroyed by the 
Romans in 68 A.D. Many believe that by this date Mark, the earliest 
of the canonical Gospels, had been composed. So it is not beyond the 


realm of possibility that a gospel text would turn up at Qumran. 
Indeed, one scholar has claimed to have identified several scraps 
from Qumran Cave 7, where Greek fragments were found, as 
containing not only parts of the text of Mark, but also Acts, Romans, 

1 Timothy, James, and 2 Peter. Jose O’Callaghan, a Spanish Jesuit 
scholar, created a worldwide sensation in the 1970s when he made 
this proposal, but today his thesis has generally been abandoned. The 
scraps on which O’Callaghan relied are tiny, nearly illegible texts that 
seem not to agree entirely with the relevant texts even for the few 
letters that can be read. Naturally, if O’Callaghan’s identification were 
correct, it would require major changes in the generally accepted 
theories about who the residents of Qumran were, at least in the later 
phases of the settlement. 

Although no actual copies of New Testament books have been found 
at Qumran, parts of some New Testament books may have been 
drawn from Qumran or Essene sources and then revised and edited 
into their present contexts. Consider 2 Corinthians 6:14-15: “Do not 
be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship 
has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light 
with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part 
has a believer with an unbeliever?” 

The entire passage sounds very much like what we find at Qumran — 
the light/darkness contrast and the strong consciousness of an 
exclusive group. The name Belial (or Beliar) occurs only here in the 
whole New Testament, but it occurs several times at Qumran — in the 
Hymns Scroll and in the unpublished halakhic letter known as 
4QMMT, as well as elsewhere. We cannot prove that this passage 
from 2 Corinthians is a revised Essene text, but Paul uses language 

here that is known only from Qumran texts. 

A similar claim can be made about the Sermon on the Mount in 
Matthew 5-7. It, too, includes a number of expressions that are 
attested at Qumran but nowhere else. For example, the “poor in 
spirit” (Matthew 5:3) is found in the War of the Sons of Light Against 
the Sons of Darkness (14:7) but in no other ancient text. Likewise, 
the sermon’s teaching that oaths should be avoided as unnecessary 
since one’s word should suffice (Matthew 5:33-37) echoes the great 
emphasis on truth in the scrolls (for example, Manual of Discipline 
2:24,26 calls the group “the community of truth”) and perhaps 
explains Josephus’ statement that the Essenes were excused from 


taking the oath of loyalty to Herod. The duty to turn the other 
cheek (Matthew 5:38-39) is found at Qumran in the Manual of 

Discipline (10:17-18)/ but not elsewhere. Finally, the antitheses in 
the Sermon on the Mount (“You have heard that it was said . . . , but 
I say unto you . . .”) are reminiscent of the way in which the still- 

unpublished halakhic letter (4QMMT) 7 introduces disagreements 
between the sect and its opponents: “You know . . . We think/say . . 

Not surprisingly, the question has arisen as to whether some New 
Testament characters can be placed at Qumran. As we have seen, 
Dupont-Sommer long ago argued that the Teacher of Righteousness, 
who figures so prominently in the Qumran documents, prefigured 
Jesus. But even he does not equate the two. I have also mentioned the 
widely rejected view that Jesus’ brother James the Just (proposed by 
Robert Eisenman) and the apostle Paul (proposed by Teicher) appear 
in the scrolls. 

The most likely candidate to have had contact with the Qumran 
community, however, is John the Baptist. From the beginning, 
scholars have been intrigued by the similarities between John and his 
teachings, on the one hand, and Qumran and its doctrines, on the 
other. The Baptist is therefore the prime candidate for contact with 
Qumran. The contention is not without some force: 

John the Baptist came from a priestly family (Luke 1:5). At his birth 
his father said of him: 

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will 
go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to 
his people in the forgiveness of sins, through the tender mercy of our God, 
when the day shall dawn upon us from on high (Luke 1:76-78). 

Luke then adds: “And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and 
he was in the wilderness till the day of his manifestation to Israel” 
(Luke 1:80). 

This particular wilderness is the Wilderness of Judea near the Jordan 
River, which flows into the Dead Sea very near Qumran (Luke 3:3; 
see also Matthew 3:1, 5-6; Mark 1:4-5). 

Accordingly, John lived in the Wilderness of Judea before his 


ministry began, and it was there that the word of God came to him in 
the fifteenth year of the emperor Tiberius (Luke 3:1-2). All three 
Synoptic Gospels introduce John’s public ministry in similar fashion 
by noting that his was a preaching of repentance (Matthew 3:2; Mark 
1:4; Luke 3:3). In the passage in Luke, he is described as “preaching a 
baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3:3). We are 
told that his preaching had a larger purpose in the divine plan for the 
latter days, since it fulfilled the words of Isaiah: John is “[t]he voice 
of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make 
his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain 
and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked shall be made straight, 
and the rough places shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the 
salvation of God.’” Luke (3:3-6) is here quoting Isaiah 40:3-4. 
Matthew 3:3 and Mark 1:2-3 also quote this passage, although not at 
such length. John’s preaching is characterized by an eschatological 
urgency, by the need for repentance before the great day dawns and 
the Lord comes. 

Both Matthew and Mark append a description of John’s unusual 
clothing and diet: he wears a camel’s hair vestment with a leather 
belt and eats locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:4; Mark 1:6). All 
three Synoptic Gospels specify that John’s baptizing took place in 
the Jordan River (Matthew 3:5-6; Mark 1:5; Luke 3:3). His 
imperative message stirred the people, as John forthrightly brought 
people’s sins to their attention (Matthew 3:7-10; Luke 3:7-14). Luke 
reports that John himself became the object of his audience’s 
interest: “As the people were in expectation, and all men questioned 
in their hearts concerning John, whether perhaps he were the Christ 
[that is, the messiah]” (Luke 3:15). At this point he proclaims the 
coming of a greater one who would baptize, not with water as John 
did, but with the Holy Spirit and with fire, one who would come for 
judgment (Luke 3:16-18; see also Matthew 3:11-12; Mark 1:7-8; 
John 1:19-28). John later baptized Jesus (Matthew 3:13-15; Mark 
1:8; Luke 3:21) and was eventually imprisoned and executed 
(Matthew 14:1-12). 

A great deal of this picture is reminiscent of the Qumran community. 
John’s geographical location seems to have been very close to 
Qumran. The Gospel of John locates his baptizing ministry “in 
Bethany beyond the Jordan” (John 1:28) and “at Aenon near Salim, 
because there was plenty of water” (John 3:23). Neither of these sites 
is known with certainty, but they seem to have lain somewhat north 
of Qumran. Yet the fact that he worked in the wilderness near the 


Jordan could well have brought him to the vicinity of, or even to, 
Qumran. The baptism of repentance that John administered parallels 
the Qumran teaching about washing in water for cleansing and 
sanctification (Manual of Discipline, 3:4-5, 9). According to another 
passage in the same Qumran text (5:13-14): “They shall not enter the 
water to partake of the pure Meal of the saints, for they shall not be 
cleansed, unless they turn from their wickedness: for all who 
transgress His word are unclean.” 

The Qumran settlement includes a number of cisterns, some of which 
were used for the frequent ritual baths of those who belonged to the 
community. There were probably differences between the baptism of 
John and the Qumran rituals (John’s baptism may have occurred just 
once for each penitent; the Qumran ablutions seem to have been 
more frequent), but both were connected with repentance and, unlike 
proselyte baptism, were meant for Jews. It should also be recalled 
that both the Qumran community and John the Baptist have their 
missions explained in our records by the same scriptural citation — 
Isaiah 40:3. The Manual of Discipline (8:12-15) quotes this same 
verse to indicate that the group believed it was fulfilling the 
prophet’s words by going literally into the wilderness, there to 
prepare the way of the Lord through study of Moses’ Torah. The 
various similarities between the Qumran sect and John add up to 
something less than an identification of John as an Essene, but they 
are certainly suggestive and have led some to make such claims about 

this New Testament forerunner. On the other hand, if John was a 
member of the Qumran community, he must have later separated 

from it to pursue his independent, solitary ministry. 

Another New Testament personality on whom several Qumran texts 
in fact cast a new light is Melchizedek. He appears a number of times 
in the New Testament book referred to as the Letter to the Hebrews 
as a priest to whose order Jesus belonged. The Gospel genealogies, 
however, show that Jesus was not a member of the tribe of Levi from 
which the priests came. In these genealogies, Jesus is descended from 
David (Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38). In his attempt to portray the 
Davidic Jesus as a priest, the author of Hebrews elaborates traditions 
about the mysterious priest-king Melchizedek of Salem who appears 
in Genesis. There Melchizedek meets Abram and blesses the patriarch 
(Genesis 14:18-20). In the following quotation from Hebrews, the 
first sentence accurately describes what happened in Genesis; the 
remainder elaborates this text and joins it with a sentence in Psalm 


110 : 4 : 

28. A water instaEation at the Qumran settlement that may have been used for 

ritual purification. 

David Harris 

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met 
Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him; and to 
him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything [of the booty]. He is 


first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also 
king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or 
genealogy, and has neither beginning of days nor end of life, but 
resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever (Hebrews 7:1-3). 

The author of Hebrews fashions an extraordinary portrait of 
Melchizedek, based on inferences (for example, his eternity, his 
superiority to Levi) from a combination of Genesis 14:18-20 and 
Psalm 110:4 (which he quotes at Hebrews 7:17). 

A text from Qumran, appropriately labeled llQMelchizedek, now 
provides at least something of a parallel to the exalted status and 
characteristics of Melchizedek in Hebrews. In the Qumran text 
Melchizedek is presented as an angelic being who raises up God’s 
holy ones for deeds of judgment and who takes divine vengeance on 
evil. Here Melchizedek has superhuman status, which clearly 

involves living eternally,* just as he has in Hebrews. 

More recently, another Qumran text was published that appears to 

mention Melchizedek — the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice. 
Although the relevant fragments are poorly preserved, here 
Melchizedek seems to officiate as the heavenly high priest, just as 
Jesus does in Hebrews. 

We have surveyed the theories of scholars — some bold and some 
cautious — about the relationship between Jesus, the New Testament, 
and the Qumran texts. We have looked at the Qumran texts for what 
they can teach us about New Testament language, for their striking 
parallels with New Testament passages, and to ask whether some of 
the same characters may walk on both stages. We will consider the 
ritual and community practices common to Qumran covenanters and 
New Testament Christians and compare the messianic views that 
both groups held along with their confident expectations that the end 
of days would soon come. 

Many of the ritual and community practices of the Qumran 
covenanters, who lived near the Dead Sea and who produced what 
we call the Dead Sea Scrolls, have impressive parallels among New 
Testament Christians. Here are just a few: 

Acts describes the events of the first Pentecost after Jesus’ 
crucifixion. It then describes the property the community holds in 
common: “And all who believed were together and had all things in 


common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed 
them to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:44-45; see also Acts 4:32). 

Later, in Acts 5:1-11, Luke narrates the celebrated case of Ananias 
and Sapphira who sold some land but presented to the community 
only a part of the proceeds. Peter accuses them of withholding, and 
they both fall down dead. Here Acts is reflecting the situation in the 
early Christian community in Jerusalem. Paul, on the other hand, 
writes as if members of the churches that he founded had private 
means with which to contribute to the needs of others (1 Corinthians 
16:2). Moreover, even in Jerusalem, contribution to the community 
may have been voluntary. (Acts 5:4 states: “After [the property] was 
sold, were not the proceeds at your disposal?” If so, the sin of 
Ananias and Sapphira was not withholding, but making a partial 
donation of the proceeds while giving the impression that it was the 

The Manual of Discipline from Qumran makes several allusions to 
the merging of members’ private property with the possessions of 
the group. This theme is especially prominent in the section that 
describes initiatory procedures for potential members. At first, the 
novice is not allowed to share the pure meal of the congregation, “nor 
shall he have any share of the property of the Congregation” (6:17). 
Once he has completed a full year within the group and it is 
determined that he may remain, “his property and earnings shall be 
handed over to the Bursar of the Congregation who shall register it to 
his account [but] shall not spend it for the Congregation” (6:19-20). 
Only after an additional, successful year of probation is it stipulated 
that “his property shall be merged” with the community’s 
possessions (6:22). The practice is compulsory at Qumran and 

follows full admission to the congregation. 

A sacred meal with eschatological significance also seems to be 
something the Qumran covenanters and the early Christians shared. 
The Last Supper, which Jesus shared with his immediate followers, 
is presented in two ways in the Gospels: For Matthew, Mark, and 
Luke, it is a Passover meal complete with bread and wine; for John, 
it was eaten the night before Passover and neither bread nor wine is 
mentioned. In the Passover version of the Last Supper, bread and 
wine play prominent roles; indeed, they attain a sacramental 

Now as they were eating, Jesus took the bread, and blessed, and broke it, 


and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he 
took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, 
“Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is 
poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I shall not drink 
again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in 
my Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:26-29; see also Mark 14:22-25; Luke 

These words give special meaning to the physical elements of the 
meal and place the ceremony within a context of expectation for 
“that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” 

The Qumran texts, too, describe a special meal that involved the 
basic elements of bread and wine. The Manual of Discipline refers to 
the meals of the group: “And when the table has been prepared for 
eating, and the new wine for drinking, the Priest shall be the first to 
stretch out his hand to bless the first-fruits of the bread and new 

wine” (6:4-6). This text also mentions a “pure meal” that only 
those who have passed through a year-long probationary period were 
permitted to eat (6:16-17); they were not allowed to partake of the 
“drink of the congregation” until a second such year had passed 
(6:20-21). Those who were guilty of slandering another member of 
the community were excluded from this meal for one year (7:16). 

The clearest statement about a special meal at Qumran comes from 
the Rule of the Congregation (lQSa) (which was originally part of 
the Manual of Discipline): 

[The ses]sion of the men of renown, [invited to] the feast for the council 
of the community when [at the end] (of days) the messiah [shall assemble] 
with them. [The priest] shall enter [at] the head of all the congregation of 
Israel, and [all his brethren the sons of] Aaron, the priests, [who are 
invited] to the feast, the men of renown, and they shall sit be [fore him, 
each] according to his importance. Afterwards, [the messiah] of Israel 
[shall enter] and the heads of the [thousands of Israel] shall sit before him 
[ea]ch according to his importance, according to [his station] in their 
encampments and their journeys. And all of the heads of the [households 
of the congrega] tion, [their] sagfes and wise men,] shall sit before them, 
each according to his importance. [When they] mee[t at the] communal 
[tab]le, [to set out bread and wi]ne, and the communal table is arranged 
[to eat and] to dri[nk] wine, [no] one [shall extend] his hand to the first 
(portion) of the bread and [the wine] before the priest. Fo[r he shall] bless 
the first (portion) of the bread and the wi[ne and shall extend] his hand to 
the bread first. Afterwa[rds,] the messiah of Israel [shall exten]d his hands 
to the bread. [Afterwards,] all of the congregation of the community [shall 
ble]ss, ea[ch according to] his importance. [They] shall act according to 


this statute whenever (the meal) is ar[ranged] when as many as ten [meet] 
together” (Rule of the Congregation 2:11-22). 

This meal, eaten in the presence of the two messiahs postulated at 
Qumran, was only for those who were ritually pure (compare 1 
Corinthians 11:27-29). 

Lawrence Schiffman, of New York University, argues that the 
Qumran meals were nonsacral or cultic in nature; rather, “[t]hese 
meals, conducted regularly as part of the present-age way of life of 
the sect, were preenactments of the final messianic banquet which 
the sectarians expected in the soon-to-come end of days. Again, the 
life of the sect in this world mirrored its dreams for the age to 

come.” 1 But however the meal of the Qumran covenanters is 
interpreted, its messianic character, the prominence of bread and 
wine, the fact that it was repeated regularly, and the explicit 
eschatological associations do in fact remind one of elements found in 

the New Testament words about the Lord’s Last Supper. 

According to at least one scholar, the Qumran texts may provide a 

solution to an old calendrical problem in Gospel studies. The 
Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), on the one hand, and 
John, on the other, place the Last Supper on different dates. The 
synoptics place the Last Supper on a Friday and treat it as a Passover 
meal; John, however, puts it on a Thursday, the day before Passover, 
and dates Jesus’ death to the next day — at a time when the Passover 
lambs were being slaughtered. The official Hebrew calendar used in 
the Jerusalem Temple was a lunar calendar with some solar 
adjustments. At Qumran, the covenanters used a 364-day solar 
calendar. A French scholar, Annie Jaubert, has proposed that, since 
two calendars were used in Judaism at this time, it is possible that 
the synoptic writers followed one calendar (the solar calendar) and 

that John followed the official lunar calendar. 

Some have found this solution attractive, but there is no evidence 
that the writers of the Gospels followed different calendar systems. 
Moreover, it is evident that John had a larger purpose in mind in 
arranging events in the passion week as he did. John does not 
emphasize the bread and wine at Jesus’ meal; they are not even 
mentioned. Instead, foot washing and mutual love are highlighted. By 
dying when he did in John’s chronology, Jesus is presented as the 


Passover lamb of his people, slaughtered the following day. 

There is no doubt that the Qumran covenanters and the early 
Christians shared a similar eschatological outlook. Both must be 
regarded as eschatological communities in the sense that both had a 
lively expectation that the end of days would come soon and ordered 
their communal beliefs and practices according to this article of 
faith. Under this broad heading, several points may be distinguished. 

Although both groups had messianic expectations, they are different 
in some respects. The faith of Qumran was that the last days would 
bring two messiahs: “They shall depart from none of the counsels of 
the Law to walk in the stubbornness of their hearts, but shall be ruled 
by the primitive precepts in which the men of the Community were 
first instructed until there shall come the Prophet and the Messiahs 
of Aaron and Israel” (Manual of Discipline 9:9-11, see also the Rule 
of the Congregation). The more prominent messiah is the priestly 
one — the messiah of Aaron. The second and apparently lower-ranking 
messiah is the lay one — the messiah of Israel. Precisely what the 
messiahs would do, other than officiate at the messianic banquet, is 
not clear; no text says either that they would save others or that they 
would atone for others’ sins, as in the case of the Christian messiah. 

The New Testament picture of Jesus is familiar: the Gospel 
genealogies trace his ancestry through David’s line. Jesus, however, 
is not only the messiah as descendant of David, but also as the son of 
God and savior. 

Perhaps the Qumran messiah of Israel is also Davidic. But there is no 
second messiah in the New Testament, as there was at Qumran. 
While the New Testament has only one messiah, however, it assigns 
to him the offices filled by the two Qumran messiahs. The New 
Testament also speaks of Jesus as a priestly messiah: In the Letter to 
the Hebrews, as we have seen, Jesus is regarded as a priest after the 
order of Melchizedek; Jesus as high priest presides over a heavenly 

One of the messianic titles given to Jesus in the New Testament is 
now attested at Qumran — for the first time in its Semitic form. In 
Luke 1:32-33 the angel who appears to Mary to announce that she 
would conceive a wondrous child, describes him this way: ‘“He will 
be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God 
will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over 


the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.’” 
The child will also be called “‘holy, the Son of God’” (Luke 1:35). 

An intriguing and still only partially published parallel to some of 
these titles comes from a Qumran document. The relevant portion 
reads: “[He] shall be great upon the earth, [O King! All shall] make 
[peace], and all shall serve [him. He shall be called the son of] the 
[G]reat [God], and by his name shall he be named. He shall be hailed 
the Son of God, and they shall call him Son of the Most High . . . , and 

his kingdom will be a kingdom forever.” 

This is not simply a matter of one title found in two texts; it is an 
entire context that has striking similarities: The individual in 
question will be great, son of God (a title found in the Hebrew Bible), 
son of the Most High (a new title), and his kingdom will be eternal. It 
is a pity that the referent of these titles in the Qumran text remains 
unknown; that part of the text has not been preserved. 

Joseph Fitzmyer has also drawn attention to some interesting 
parallels between the infancy stories of Jesus in Matthew and Luke 
and of Noah as preserved in the Qumran text known as the Genesis 
Apocryphon (lQap-Gen) (and 1 Enoch 106-107). For example, in the 
latter texts, it is suspected that Noah does not have a natural father. 
In Matthew and Luke, Mary’s conception is through the 
overshadowing of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:35). In 
Noah’s case, his father Lantech suspects that his mother Batenosh 

has had an extramarital affair with an angel. 

Another shared perspective by both Qumran covenanters and early 
Christians was the way that they interpreted biblical texts — with a 
strong eschatological consciousness that the end of days was near. 

Among the earliest of the scrolls to be discovered and published was 
the commentary (or pesher ) on the Book of Habakkuk. Karl Elliger 
published a book about this commentary as early as 1953. He 
summarized the assumptions underlying this and similar Qumran 
commentaries (pesharim) on biblical books: The biblical writers are 

speaking about the last days, and the last days are now. Based on 
these presuppositions, the Qumran sectarians interpreted the biblical 
texts as referring to themselves and their leaders; the events of their 
community’s history were being foretold in the biblical texts. 


For example, Habakkuk 2:1-2 states: 

I will take my stand to watch, and station myself on the tower, and look 
forth to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my 
complaint. And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain 
upon tablets, so he may run who reads it.” 

The Habakkuk Commentary (lQpHab) from Qumran explains the 
passage this way: “God told Habakkuk to write down that which 
would happen to the final generation, but He did not make known to 
him when time would come to an end. And as for that which He said, 
‘That he who reads may read it speedily’ [“so he may run who reads 
it” in Habakkuk 2:2], interpreted, this concerns the Teacher of 
Righteousness, to whom God made known all the mysteries of the 
words of His servants the Prophets” (Habakkuk Commentary 7:1-5). 

Many New Testament passages evidence the same eschatological 
reading of biblical texts, interpreting them as if they foretold and 
applied directly to contemporary events. Take the story of Pentecost 
in Acts 2. The apostolic band had been speaking in tongues by virtue 
of the Holy Spirit that had been poured over them. The local 
population is perplexed and mocks them. Peter defends those who 
were speaking in tongues, citing Scripture in support of the 
linguistic miracle that has just occurred: 

For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third 
hour of the day; but this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: “And in 
the last days [Joel does not actually say “in the last days”; he says only 

“afterward” 4 ] it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit 
upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your 
young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams . . .” 
(Acts 2:15-17). 

Thus, according to Acts, the prophet Joel proclaimed that the divine 
Spirit would be poured out in the last days, and that eschatological 
event actually occurred at the first Christian celebration of Pentecost. 
This way of interpreting Scripture (Joel in Acts and Habakkuk in the 
Habakkuk Commentary from Qumran) is identical. 

At times the authors of the New Testament and of the Qumran texts 
rely on the same biblical text, interpreting it in the same way. We 
have already seen this in the case of Isaiah 40:3 (“A voice cries out: 
‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the 
desert a highway for our God’”). John the Baptist, for the Gospel 


writers, and the Qumran community, for the Qumran covenanters, 
are both said to be preparing the Lord’s way in the wilderness. 

Another instance of this is Habakkuk 2:4b: “The righteous live by 
their faith,” one of Paul’s favorite proof texts. He uses it in Galatians 
3:11 to support his argument that faith, not works, is the way to 
become right with God: “Now it is evident that no man is justified 
before God by the law; for ‘He who through faith is righteous shall 
live’” (see also Romans 1:17). 

The Habakkuk Commentary from Qumran offers another angle on 
Habakkuk 2:4b: “Interpreted, this concerns those who observe the 
Law in the House of Judah, whom God will deliver from the House 
of Judgment because of their suffering and because of their faith in 
[or: fidelity to] the Teacher of Righteousness” (Habakkuk 

Commentary 8:1-3). Interestingly, the same passage that for Paul 
dealt with a way of righteousness other than the path of the Law was 
at Qumran a verse that encouraged faithfulness to that Law and 
fidelity to the Teacher who expounded it correctly. Yet both use the 
same text and the same method of interpretation. 

The eschatological nature of these two communities can also be seen 
in some of the major doctrines they embraced. For example, both 
employ dualistic language to describe the options in the universe: 
There are just two positions, with no mediating ground between. 
Since both communities are still Jewish at this time, the dualism is 
ethical; the two opposing camps (or principles) are light and 
darkness. One of the best-known passages in the scrolls says: 

He [God] has created man to govern the world, and has appointed for him 
two spirits in which to walk until the time of His visitation: the spirits of 
truth and falsehood. Those born of truth spring from a fountain of light, 
but those born of falsehood spring from a source of darkness. All the 
children of righteousness are ruled by the Prince of Light and walk in the 
ways of light, but all the children of falsehood are ruled by the Angel of 
Darkness and walk in the ways of darkness (Manual of Discipline 3: 18— 
21 ). 

Perpetual conflict marks the relation between the two camps: 

For God has established the spirits in equal measure until the final age, and 
has set everlasting hatred between their divisions. Truth abhors the works 
of falsehood, and falsehood hates all the ways of truth. And their struggle 
is fierce in all their arguments for they do not walk together (Manual of 
Discipline 4:16-18). 


However, God has “ordained an end for falsehood, and at the time of 
the visitation He will destroy it for ever” (Manual of Discipline 4:18- 
19). Another Qumran text, The Scroll of the War of the Sons of Light 
Against the Sons of Darkness, contains an elaborate description of the 
final batdes between the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness. 
Though powerful angels will fight on both sides, God will, in his 
good time, decide the issue in favor of the light. 

This language is hardly strange to readers of the New Testament. 
Similar rhetoric appears in the writings of both Paul (in 2 
Corinthians 6:14-7:1) and John. 

In John 8:12, the author quotes Jesus as saying: “I am the light of the 
world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have 
the light of life.” 

As at Qumran, John uses the light/darkness contrast, not in its literal, 
but in an ethical, sense. As at Qumran, so in John the realms of light 
and darkness are in conflict: “The light shines in the darkness, and the 
darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). In John 12:35-36, the 
evangelist tells us: “The light is with you a little longer. Walk while 
you have the light, lest the darkness overtake you; he who walks in 
darkness does not know where he goes. While you have the light, 
believe in the light, that you may be sons of the light” (see also John 
3:19-20; 1 John 1:6, 2:9-10). Thus, the followers of Jesus, like the 
Qumran covenanters, styled themselves “the sons of the light.” 

The Christian belief about the end is clear: A number of passages 
speak of Christ’s return, the resurrection of the good and the evil and 
the ultimate victory of the former under Christ’s banner (for 
example, 1 Corinthians 15:20-28, 51-57). The resurrection of Jesus 
is a guarantee that those who belong to him will also rise in physical 

Whether the Qumran covenanters believed in a bodily resurrection is 
not entirely clear, but they certainly believed in the immortality of 
the soul. The first-century Jewish historian Josephus tells of Essenes 
who under torture “cheerfully resigned their souls, confident that 
they would receive them back again. For it is a fixed belief of theirs 
that the body is corruptible and its constituent matter impermanent, 

but that the soul is immortal and imperishable.” The implication 
from this passage seems to be that, while the Essenes believe in the 


immortality of the soul, they do not believe in the resurrection of the 
body, as did the early Christians. The Qumran texts too mention “life 
without end” (Manual of Discipline 4:7; The Damascus Rule [CD] 
3:20, etc.). But they may also mention a resurrection of bodies, 
although this is not absolutely clear. The difficulty arises because the 
best available evidence from the published Qumran texts is a poetic 
passage, and thus its reference to the author’s being raised from sheol 
(the realm of the dead) to an eternal height may be figurative 
language for God’s delivering him from dire straits to a renewed life, 
rather than a literal bodily resurrection (see the Hymn Scroll 3:19- 
22). However, Hippolytus, an early Christian writer (c. 170-236) 
who, like Josephus, describes Essene beliefs, claims that the Essenes 

did accept the doctrine of the resurrection of bodies. An as-yet- 
unpublished Qumran text may now confirm Hippolytus’ 

A A ' ' 

statement. Emile Puech of the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem is 
editing a Hebrew text, inherited from the late Jean Starcky, that 
Puech dates to the first half of the first century B.C. It reads in part: 
“And they [those who curse] will be for death [while] the One who 

gives life will [rai]se to life the dead of his people.” So the Qumran 
covenanters may well have believed, as did the early Christians, in a 
bodily resurrection. 

What can we conclude from all this? Clearly, the Qumran literature 
and the New Testament are similar to one another in numerous and 
diverse ways. From the similarities, two conclusions can be drawn: 
(1) The early Church grew upon Jewish soil to a far greater extent 
than previously supposed; and (2) a larger number of the early 
Church’s beliefs and practices than previously suspected were not 
unique to it. 

On the other hand, the Qumran scrolls also help to highlight 
Christianity’s uniqueness: This lies not so much in its communal 
practices and eschatological expectations but in its confession that 
the son of a carpenter from Nazareth in Galilee was indeed the 
Messiah and son of God who taught, healed, suffered, died, rose, 
ascended, and promised to return some day in glory to judge the 
living and the dead. 

By confessing that their Messiah had come, the Christians also placed 
themselves further along on the eschatological timetable than the 
Qumran covenanters who were still awaiting the arrival of their two 



As more of the Qumran library is published, I strongly suspect we 
will also find that the centrality of Torah, its proper interpretation, 

and obedience to it figured more prominently in Essene doctrine. 
This, too, stands in stark contrast with at least the Pauline form of 
Christianity, in which the Mosaic Torah was not to be imposed upon 
Gentile Christians and justification was obtained through faith, quite 
apart from observance of the Law. 

One final note: In light of the significant parallels — and major 
differences — between the Qumran texts and the New Testament, it is 
puzzling that the Essenes are never mentioned by name in the New 
Testament. Some have suggested that they are mentioned but by a 

different designation (for example, the Elerodians ). Others have 
tried to explain their absence on the grounds that the groups who are 
mentioned — the Pharisees and Sadducees — tend to figure in 
polemical contexts, while the Essenes, with whom Jesus and the first 
Christians had more in common, do not appear precisely because 
there were fewer controversies with them or because the Essenes did 

not debate with outsiders. A fully satisfying answer escapes us — 
perhaps because we do not actually know the Semitic term that lies 
behind the Greek name “Essenes.” As this statement implies, the 
Essenes are not mentioned by that name in rabbinic literature 

either. Nor, for that matter, does the name Essene appear in the 
Qumran literature. So we are still left with a few puzzles to figure 

* See Chapter 16. 

* See Chapters 3 and 4. 





One of the major conclusions of the last chapter was that the 
Qumran literature helps us to understand better the Jewish soil out 
of which Christianity grew. For example, many facets of early 
Christian concepts that were once thought to have entered 
Christianity at a later time via Hellenistic culture can now be 
traced to first-century Jewish Palestine. 

This short notice illustrates this point — on the basis of a leaked, 
still-unpublished Qumran text that may be fully available by the 
time this appears in print. The unpublished text uses terms like Son 
of the Most High, which was once thought to originate in 
Hellenistic circles outside Palestine. This text also illustrates the 
kinds of insights we may expect from the unpublished corpus after 
scholars have had an opportunity to read and digest it. 

The unpublished text discussed here has striking parallels to a 
passage in the Gospel of Luke. It contains the phrase Son of God, 
the first time this phrase has been found in a text outside the Bible. 


A still-unpublished Dead Sea Scroll fragment, whose siglum is 4Q246, 
bears striking similarities to a passage from the annunciation scene in 


Luke’s Gospel. In the Gospel, God sends the angel Gabriel to announce 
to Mary, a virgin betrothed to Joseph, that she will conceive a son 
whom she is to call Jesus. In making the announcement, Gabriel says 
to her: “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High. 
. . . The power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the 
child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” (Luke 1:32,35). 

In the fragment from Qumran, we do not know who is speaking or 
who is being spoken of, but this is what the fragment says: “[X] shall 
be great upon the earth. [O king, all (people) shall] make [peace], 
and all shall serve [him. He shall be called the son of] the [G]reat 
[God], and by his name shall he be hailed (as) the Son of God, and 
they shall call him Son of the Most High.” 

In both passages, we are told that he will be “great”; that he will be 
“called” “Son of the Most High” and “Son of God.” This is the first 
time that the term Son of God has been found in a Palestinian text 
outside the Bible. 

Obviously this text is of extraordinary importance to all New 
Testament scholars who want to understand the background of this 
passage from Luke’s Gospel and the usage of terms like Most High 
(found elsewhere in Luke) and Son of God (found throughout the 
New Testament). Previously some scholars have insisted that the 
origins of terms like Most High and Son of the Most High were to be 
found in Hellenistic usage outside Palestine and that therefore they 
relate to later development of Christian doctrine. Now we know that 
these terms were part of Christianity’s original Jewish heritage. This 
unpublished Dead Sea Scroll fragment is especially important 
because Luke’s Gospel, like all the Gospels, has been preserved only 
in Greek, a language that Jesus probably did not speak. The fragment 
from the Dead Sea caves, however, is in Aramaic, the language that 
Jesus almost certainly did speak. 

This particular fragment was acquired in 1958 through Kando, the 
Bethlehem and East Jerusalem antiquities dealer who had served as 
middleman for the purchase of most of the Dead Sea Scrolls from the 
Bedouin shepherds. The fragment was given for publication to J. T. 
Milik, a Polish scholar now living in Paris. More than thirty years 
later, it has still not been published. 





In Chapter 14 James VanderKam referred to the possibility that 
John the Baptist might have lived at Qumran. In this chapter, the 
distinguished German scholar Otto Betz explores this possibility in 
some depth, in the course of which we learn a great deal about 
Qumran doctrine. 

Betz first considers the similarities between John the Baptist’s life 
and teaching, on one hand, and the life and teaching at Qumran, 
on the other. But Betz also examines the differences. At the end of 
his career, the Baptist’s mission included a call to action that 
seems far removed from the withdrawn, largely passive community 
of Qumran. Betz concludes that John the Baptist was probably 
raised at the Qumran settlement and lived there during his early 
years, but then left to preach his message to the Jewish masses. 

Betz calls our attention to the fact that our sources tell not only of 
isolated Essenes, as at Qumran, but also of fiery Essene prophets 
who called for repentance. John may have regarded himself as 
one of them. 


The Dead Sea Scrolls provide us with a picture of a first-century 
Jewish community that could well have been the home of John the 
Baptist. At the very least, the possibility is worth exploring. The 
question is not answered easily, nor is it without difficulty. My own 


view is that the Baptist was raised in this community by the Dead 
Sea and was strongly influenced by it, but later left it to preach 
directly to a wider community of Jews. 

Paradoxically, our sources in some ways portray John the Baptist 
more clearly than Jesus. It is certainly easier to place John in 
relationship to the contemporaneous Jewish community. Moreover, 
for John, we have an additional, nonbiblical witness — the first- 
century Jewish historian Josephus who refers to Jesus but tells little 
about him. Even among hypercritical exegetes, there is little doubt 
about who John was and what he stood for. 

The Dead Sea Scrolls give us an extraordinary contemporary picture 
of a Jewish sect, living in the wilderness, with an outlook, customs, 
and laws that seem to be very much like John’s. 

Most scholars, including myself, identify the Dead Sea Scroll 
community as Essene — a separatist Jewish sect or philosophy 
described, along with the Pharisees and Sadducees, by Josephus. 

Recently some few scholars have questioned whether the Dead Sea 


Scroll community was Essene. They contend that the library of 
scrolls found in the Dead Sea caves represents broader Jewish 
thought. However this may be, it is clear that the library’s core 
documents — to which I shall refer — are, at the least, Essenic, and 
represent the commitment of a Jewish community quite distinct 
from — even opposed to — the Jerusalem authorities. 

Moreover, in the Judean wilderness, archaeologists have identified 
and excavated a settlement near where the scrolls were found. 
According to Pliny the Elder, in Historia Naturelis, the Essenes lived 
in just this location. Indeed, of the eleven caves with inscriptional 
material, the one with the greatest number of documents — Cave 4 — 
could be entered from the adjacent settlement. It is difficult for me to 
understand the contention, recently put forward by Norman Golb of 
the University of Chicago, that the settlement is unrelated to the 

In any event, we shall assume that this settlement, which overlooks 
the Wadi Qumran, was Essene and that the sectarian documents 
found in the Qumran caves are also Essene. 

As portrayed in the Gospels, John the Baptist stands at the threshold 


of the Kingdom. He marks the transition from Judaism to 

Not only is the Gospel picture generally consistent with Josephus, 
but the four canonical Gospels are themselves in general agreement. 
In the case of John, there is little room for historical skepticism. 

The Gospels portray John as a prophet who came out of the Judean 
wilderness to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to call for 
repentance. It seems clear that he had a successful ministry of his 
own, baptizing with water those who repented. 

After Herod the Great died in 4 B.C., his son Herod Antipas became 
tetrarch of Galilee. John denounced Antipas’ marriage to Herodias, 
his half-niece, who had abandoned her previous husband. Antipas 
threw John into prison for his criticism. Antipas’ new wife Herodias, 
however, was to go one step further. At Antipas’ birthday party, 
Salome, Herodias’s daughter by her previous marriage and now 

Antipas’ step-daughter, danced for Antipas, who was so delighted 
with her performance that he promised on oath to give Salome 
whatever she desired. Induced by her mother Herodias, Salome asked 
for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Antipas was unhappy at 
the request but was bound by his oath. He had John beheaded in 
prison, which Josephus locates at the fortress of Machaerus, east of 

the Jordan, and his head was duly delivered to Salome on a platter 
(Matthew 14:3-12; Mark 6:17-29). 

John’s stature is reflected in the fact that when Antipas is informed 
of Jesus’ ministry and wondrous deeds, his first thought is that John 
had been resurrected and had come back to life (Matthew 14:1-2; 
Mark 6:14-16; Luke 9:7-9). 

The Gospels portray John as the forerunner of Jesus. Jesus himself 
proclaims John’s stature: “Truly, I say to you, among those born of 
women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist” 
(Matthew 11:11; compare Luke 7:28). John, Jesus tells the crowd, is 
“more than a prophet” (Matthew 11:9; Luke 5:26). Indeed, “he is 
Elijah to come” (Matthew 11:14), the traditional precursor of the 
Messiah. Jesus himself was baptized by John (Matthew 3:13-17; 
Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22). It is clear that the populace considered 
John a true prophet (Matthew 21:26; Mark 11:32; Luke 20:6). 
According to Josephus, John “was a good man and had commanded 


the Jews to lead a virtuous life.” 2 

Years after Jesus’ death, Paul encountered a man in faraway Ephesus 
(in Asia Minor) who “knew only the baptism of John” (Acts 18:25). 
John’s movement apparently endured (see Acts 19:3). 

According to the third- and fourth-century pseudo-Clementines 
(Recognitiones 1. 60), John’s disciples claimed that their master had 
been greater than Jesus and that John was the true messiah. 

John the Baptist has been immortalized through innumerable works 
of art — novels, operas, movies, and especially paintings — showing 
the prophet preaching in the desert, baptizing in the Jordan River, or 
pointing to the lamb of God. We see him as a prisoner in a dark cell, 
or sometimes only his bloody head on a platter being delivered to the 
beautiful Salome. The Baptist was also a favorite of icon painters. As 
the prodromos, the precursor of Christ, he stands at the left hand of 
the Judge of the World. 

More than twenty years ago, when I was teaching at the University of 
Chicago, one of my black students said to me, “I want to be like John: 
a voice in the desert, crying for the outcasts, unmasking the 
hypocrites, showing the sinners the way to righteousness!” A year 
later the wave of student revolts had reached my own university at 
Tubingen, where I had returned. I recall a good Christian student who 
suddenly declared: “Please, not Jesus! John the Baptist is my man!” 
And he gave up his theological studies. 

It is not surprising that the discovery and partial publication of the 
Dead Sea Scrolls has led to speculation that John the Baptist was an 
Essene who lived at Qumran. The Essenes flourished at Qumran at 
the same time John was preaching and baptizing people in the 
nearby Jordan River. The Qumran settlement was destroyed by the 
Romans in about 68 A.D. as part of their effort to suppress the First 
Jewish Revolt against Rome (66 to 70 A.D.), which culminated in the 
destruction of Jerusalem. 

The Dead Sea Scroll known as the Manual of Discipline, also called 
the Rule of the Community (designated by the scholarly siglum IQS, 
which stands for “Qumran Cave 1, Serekh ha-yahad,” the Hebrew 
name of the text), appears to be the main organizational document of 
the Qumran community. There we read that the people of the 
community must separate themselves 


. . . from the dwelling-place of the men of perversion [the Jerusalem 
authorities] in order to go to the wilderness to prepare the way of HIM, as 
it is written [quoting Isaiah 40:3]: “In the wilderness prepare the way of . 

. . . [the divine name is marked in this scroll by four dots] , make straight 
in the desert a road for our God!” — this [way] is the search of the Law 
(Manual of Discipline 8:13-15). 

The Essenes were thus led to the wilderness by the same scriptural 
directions that motivated the life and ministry of John. The early 
Christians understood John as ‘“the voice of one crying in the 
wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight’” 
(Mark 1:3). This passage from Mark quotes the same words from 
Isaiah 40:3 that are quoted in the Qumran Manual of Discipline. 

The Qumran settlement and the adjacent caves where the scrolls were 
found are located in the vicinity of the traditional place of John’s 
activity near Jericho. Luke’s account of John’s birth ends with the 
astonishing remark: “And the child grew and became strong in spirit, 
and he was in the wilderness till the day of his manifestation to 
Israel” (Luke 1:80). How could this little child, the only son of aged 
parents, grow up in the wilderness? Well, the Essenes lived there, 
leading a kind of monastic life. According to Josephus they would 
receive the children of other people when they were “still young and 
capable of instruction” and would care for them as their own and 

raise them according to their way of life. It would seem that John 
the Baptist was raised at Qumran — or at a place very much like it — 
until he became the voice of one crying in the wilderness, calling for 

Correspondences between the life and teachings of the Qumran 
community and the life and teachings of John are often 
extraordinary. John’s baptism, as we learn from the Gospels, is but 
the outward sign of the reality of repentance and the assurance of 
God’s forgiveness (Mark 1:4). After the penitent people had confessed 
their sins, John baptized them. This probably consisted of immersion 
in the waters of the Jordan River. However, without the “fruit 
worthy of repentance” (Matthew 3:8), this rite of purification was 
useless; as Josephus puts it: “The soul must be already thoroughly 

cleansed by righteousness.”' In the Manual of Discipline (3:3-8) we 
read that cleansing of the body must be accompanied by purification 
of the soul. Someone who is still guided by the stubbornness of his 
heart, who does not want to be disciplined in the community of God, 
cannot become holy, but instead remains unclean, even if he should 


wash himself in the sea or in rivers; for he must be cleansed by the 
holy spirit and by the truth of God. 

According to the Gospels, John the Baptist announced the coming of 
a “Stronger One” who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with 
fire (Mark 1:7-8). The Qumran community had a similar 
expectation: They anticipated that their ritual washings would be 
superseded with a purification by the Holy Spirit at the end of time; 
then God himself will pour his spirit like water from heaven and 
remove the spirit of perversion from the hearts of his chosen people. 
Then they would receive the “knowledge of the Most High and all the 
glory of Adam” (Manual of Discipline 4:20-22). 

In Matthew 21:32, we read that Jesus himself said that “John came to 
you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him . . . 
[E]ven when you saw it, you did not afterwards repent and believe 
him.” Similarly with the high priests and elders in Jerusalem who 
did not accept John (Matthew 21:23-27). John may be compared 
with the most influential man in the Qumran movement, the Teacher 
of Righteousness. This great anonymous figure announced the events 
that would come upon the last generation, but the people who “do 
violence to the covenant” did “not believe” his words (Commentary 
on Habakkuk 2:2-9). 

The Teacher of Righteousness was the priest ordained by God to lead 
the repentant to the way of His heart (Commentary of Habakkuk 2:8; 
Cairo Damascus Document 1:11). His teaching was like that of a 
prophet, inspired by the holy spirit. John too was a priest, the son of 
the priest Zacharias (Luke 1:5). Like the Qumran Teacher of 
Righteousness, John separated himself from the priesthood in 
Jerusalem and from the service in the Temple. And, like the Teacher 
of Righteousness, he was also a prophet. 

Both the Teacher of Righteousness and John the Baptist nevertheless 
remained faithful to the laws of purity; they both practiced them in a 
radical, even ascetic, way. Both the Teacher of Righteousness and 
John the Baptist believed that the messianic age and the final 
judgment were soon to come. That is why they both practiced the 
purification of body and soul in such a strict way. The prophetic call 
for repentance and the apocalyptic expectation of the end of history 
led to the radicalization and generalization of the priestly laws of 


We are told that John the Baptist “did not eat nor drink” (Matthew 
11:18), which means that he lived an ascetic life, eating locusts and 
wild honey (Mark 1:6), foods found in the desert. John wanted to be 
independent, unpolluted by civilization, which he considered 
unclean. In this he was not unlike the Essenes living at Qumran. 
John’s cloak was made of camel’s hair and the girdle around his waist 
was leather, well suited to his aim of strict purity. 

In ancient Israel the spirit of prophecy often opposed the theology of 
the priests (see, for example, Amos 5:22; Isaiah 1:11-13; and 
Jeremiah 7:21-26). The prophets warned the people not to rely too 
heavily on the Temple and on the atoning effect of sacrifice. Both the 
Essenes and John the Baptist, however, succeeded in combining the 
prophetic and the priestly ideals in a holy life, ritually pure, but 
characterized by repentance and the expectancy of the final 
judgment. John’s disciples were known to fast (Mark 2:18) and to 
recite their special prayers (Luke 11:1). These two acts of piety also 
appear in the Qumran texts. Infraction of even minor rules was 
punished by a reduction in the food ration, which meant severe 
fasting (Manual of Discipline 7:2-15). And there are several special 
prayers in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Among them are the beautiful 
Thanksgiving Hymns from the scroll found in Cave 1. Cave 11 also 
produced a scroll of psalms in which new prayers were inserted into 
a series of Psalms of David. 

The Qumran Essenes separated themselves from the Jerusalem 
Temple and its sacrificial cult. The Temple’s offerings of animals 
were replaced by the “offerings of the lips” (that is, prayers) and by 
works of the law. Man must render himself to God as a pleasing 
sacrifice; he must bring his spirit and body, his mental and physical 
capacities, together with his material goods and property, into the 
community of God. In this community all these gifts will be cleansed 
of the pollution of selfish ambition through humble obedience to the 
commandments of God (Manual of Discipline 1:11-13). 

The Qumran community was intended to be a living sanctuary. They 
believed this living temple, consisting of people, rendered a better 
service to God than the Jerusalem sanctuary made of stones. The 
chosen “stones” of the community were witnesses to the truth of God 
and made atonement for the land (Manual of Discipline 8:6-10); in 
this way, the community protects the land and its people from the 
consuming wrath of God and the catastrophe of his judgment. The 
Jerusalem Temple could not do this as long as disobedient priests 


served in it. 

John the Baptist, the son of a priest, also had a conflict with the 
Jerusalem hierarchy, similar to the conflict of the Essenes with the 
Jerusalem hierarchy. He must have shared the Essenes’ belief in the 
superior quality of the spiritual temple of God. He warned the 
people not to rely on the fact that Abraham was their father, for “God 
is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham [That is, a 
truly repentant community]” (Matthew 3:9). This famous saying 
contains a marvelous play on words in Hebrew. “Children” is banim; 
stones is abanim. The saying thus presupposes the idea of a living 
temple “of men.” John is saying that God can create genuine children 
of Abraham “from these stones ” and build them into the sanctuary of 
His community. 

In the Temple Scroll from Qumran, God promises that he will 
“create” a sanctuary at the beginning of the new age; this he will do 
according to the covenant made with Jacob at Bethel (Temple Scroll 
29:7-10). At Bethel, Jacob had declared: “This stone [the pillar that 
Jacob had erected] shall become the house of God” (Genesis 28:22). 
Both the Qumran community and John the Baptist believed in the 
creative power of God that will manifest itself at the end of time, as it 
did in the beginning. Then God will establish the true sanctuary and 
the ideal worship, which are anticipated both in the life of the 
Qumran community and in the life that John preached. 

John’s preaching had several characteristics that can also be found at 
Qumran. For example, John used prophetic forms of rebuke and 
threat (Matthew 3:7-10). The hypocrites who came to him for 
baptism without repenting he called “a brood of vipers” (Matthews 
3:7). I believe this strange term is the Hebrew equivalent of ma‘ase 
‘eph’eh or “creatures of the Snake” — that is, Sons of the Devil. This 
same phrase occurs in the Thanksgiving Hymns from Qumran (1QH 
3:17). In short, the prophetic language of John the Baptist was 
enriched by the polemics of the Qumran community of Essenes. 

While there are thus many reasons to suppose that John the Baptist 
was an Essene who may have lived at Qumran, there are also 
impediments to this conclusion that must be as assiduously pursued 
as the correspondences. First, John is never mentioned in the Dead 
Sea Scrolls that have been published so far. 

Perhaps more telling is the fact that John is never called an Essene in 


either the New Testament or in Josephus. The absence of such a 
reference is especially significant in Josephus, because in both 
Antiquities of the Jews and The Jewish War, Josephus discusses the 
Essene sect several times as a Jewish “philosophy,” on a par with the 
Sadduccees and the Pharisees. In The Jewish War (2:567), Josephus 
even mentions another John, whom he identifies as “John, the 
Essene,” who served as a Jewish general in the First Jewish Revolt 
against Rome. Josephus also identifies three prophetic figures as 
Essenes (although he does not call them prophets). All of this 
indicates that Josephus would have identified John the Baptist as an 
Essene if he knew him to be a member of that group. 

Even more significantly, John the Baptist was outspokenly critical of 
the civil government, which would be uncharacteristic of an Essene. 
The Baptist went so far as to criticize the tetrarch Antipas himself for 
marrying his “brother’s wife” (Mark 6:18). With his preaching, John 
created such excitement among the crowds that Herod became afraid 

that this might lead to a revolt. John’s outspokenness seems unlike 
an Essene. 

A similar objection can be raised regarding John’s courageous 
concern for the salvation of his Jewish countrymen. This too seems 
unlike the Essenes. Indeed, after some serious but unsuccessful 
criticism of the religious and political leaders in the second century 
B.C., the Essenes seem to have withdrawn from public life in order to 
work out their own salvation. They never developed missionary 
activity, but preferred simply to wait for those whom God chose to 
join their community of salvation. 

John the Baptist, on the other hand, dared to address all the people. 
He became the incarnation of the divine voice, calling from the desert 
into the inhabited world: “I am the voice of one calling in the 
wilderness” (John 1:23). John did not relegate people to a sacred 
place in the desert, nor did he incorporate them into a holy 
community with monastic rules. Rather, after they had confessed 
their sins, he baptized them once and for all. Then he sent them back 
to their profane world — to their work and their families. There they 
were to enjoy the “true fruits of repentance” in a life of 
righteousness. This does not sound at all like an Essene. 

For these reasons, we could easily conclude that John the Baptist was 
not an Essene. The Essene community, on the one hand, and John, on 


the other, seem to have lived in two different worlds: the one a closed 
community of saints whose sole concern was for their own salvation; 
the other, a lonely prophet who is concerned for all his people and 
their salvation. 

But this is not the end of the discussion. There is a way to reconcile 
both the pros and cons. As Josephus reminds us, not all Essenes led a 
monastic life in the wilderness of Judah. Indeed some sound almost 
like John the Baptist. Josephus even speaks of Essene prophets. Nor 
were these pseudoprophets, impostors and deceivers, of whom 
Josephus has much to say, but men who foresaw and told the truth, 
much like the classic prophets of ancient Israel. These Essene seers 
appeared suddenly, standing up to kings, criticizing their conduct or 
foretelling their downfall. Josephus does not describe their teaching 

and way of life; he simply characterizes them as Essenes. 

In short, there is no clear-cut conflict between the priestly way of life 
(Essene) and the prophetic. Both biblical traditions — the priestly and 
the prophetic one — influenced the Essenes just as they did John the 

I believe that John grew up as an Essene, probably in the desert 
settlement at Qumran. Then he heard a special call of God; he became 
independent of the community — perhaps even more than the Essene 
prophets described by Josephus. With his baptism of repentance, 
John addressed all Israel directly; he wanted to serve his people and 
to save as many of them as possible. 

The Essenes of Qumran no doubt prepared the way for this 
prophetic voice in the wilderness. They succeeded in combining 
Israel’s priestly and prophetic heritage in a kind of eschatological 
existence. The Essenes radicalized and democratized the concept of 
priestly purity; they wanted a true theocracy and they sought to turn 
the people of God into a “kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:5-6). 

A particular motif for their peculiar piety was the eschatological 
hope. In the age to come, they believed, there would be only one 
congregation of the holy ones in heaven and on earth; then angels and 
men would worship together. Therefore, the liturgy and the sacred 
calendar used in heaven for the time of prayer and the celebration of 
the feasts served as a model for Essene worship even in the present. 
In heaven, animals are not sacrificed and offered to God; the angels 


use incense and sing hymns of praise. Therefore, on earth they had 
no need of the Jerusalem Temple. The Essenes believed that a living 
sanctuary of holy men could render a more efficient ministry of 
atonement than animal sacrifices, offered by an unclean priesthood 
(Manual of Discipline 8:6-10; 9:4-5). 

But the Essenes also incorporated the traditions of the prophets into 
their beliefs. The prophet had little if anything to do with Temple 
and sacrifice; the prophet tried to accomplish atonement through his 
personal commitment and the effort to change the hearts of his 
audience. Because the Essenes were a movement of repentance, they 
adopted the prophetic tradition, despite their leadership of priests. 
Their Teacher of Righteousness was a priest who acted in a 
prophetic way. 

This was true as well for John the Baptist. Tie was the son of a priest 
and practiced the laws of priestly purity in a radical way. But in his 

ministry for Israel he acted as a prophet, as the Elijah redivivus to 
announce the coming of the Messiah. In his baptism, both traditions 
were combined, just as they were in the Essene philosophy: The 
priestly laws of ritual purity were combined with the prophetic 
concern for repenting, returning to God, and offering oneself to Him. 
Accordingly, it is reasonable to conclude that John the Baptist was 
raised in the tradition of the Essenes and may well have lived at 
Qumran before taking his message to a wider public. 









Until recently, many scholars rejected as historically unreliable the 
descriptions of the Pharisees and their laws contained in rabbinic 
literature compiled hundreds of years after the Roman destruction 
of the Temple in 70 A.D. Now, according to Lawrence Schiffman 
of New York University, the Dead Sea Scrolls are changing this 
view. Sensitively read, the Dead Sea Scrolls tell us a great deal 
about the Pharisees during the period before 70 A.D. The 
postdestruction rabbinic descriptions of the Pharisees and their 
religious practices are turning out to be remarkably accurate. The 
continuities between the laws and practices of predestruction 
Pharisees and postdestruction rabbinic Judaism are far greater 
than had previously been supposed. 


In my judgment, the texts from Qumran will lead to a new 
understanding of the history of Judaism in the Second Temple 
period. Initial research on the scrolls naturally concentrated on the 
Dead Sea Scroll sect. But the full corpus will teach us a tremendous 

amount about other Jewish groups as well. 

Judaism in all its modern manifestations ultimately derives from 
rabbinic Judaism, the religious system of the rabbis of the Mishnah 
(compiled in about 200 C.E.) and the Talmud (compiled between 
about 400 and 600 C.E.). First codified in the Mishnah, rabbinic 
tradition claims to be the continuation of the teachings of the 


Pharisees, a group of lay teachers of the Torah who arose in the years 
following the Maccabean uprising (168-164 B.C.E.) and who 
continued teaching up to the time of the Roman destruction of the 
Temple in 70 C.E. The Pharisees were succeeded, in a sense, by the 

tannaim, the teachers of the Mishnah. (The texts from the period of 
the Mishnah are known as tannaitic literature.) 

Modern critical scholarship has challenged much of what talmudic 
sources (including the Mishnah) say about the Pharisees in the 
predestruction period on the grounds that the scant evidence 
preserved in these texts actually comes from the post-70 period. 
Many scholars have simply rejected out of hand the claims made in 
postdestruction rabbinic literature that the Pharisees were the 
dominant religious group in the affairs of the Temple as early as the 
Maccabean period and during the reign of the Hasmonean dynasty 

which succeeded the Maccabean uprising. Yet ultimately, rabbinic 
Judaism’s claim to authority rests on the continuity of the Pharisaic- 
rabbinic tradition from predestruction to postdestruction times. For 
the rabbis, the traditions of the Pharisees had been transmitted orally 
to the tannaitic masters of the Mishnah and in this way had formed 
the basis for postdestruction tannaitic Judaism. But to the modern 
critical historian the evidence was sparse. 

Accordingly, any light that might be cast on the history of the 
Pharisees and their teachings in the predestruction period would be 
critically important. With new evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls it 
is now possible to demonstrate that for much of the Hasmonean 
period Pharisaic views were indeed dominant in the Jerusalem 

Temple. In short, the reports of the religious laws, or halakhah, 
attributed to the Pharisees in later talmudic texts are basically 
accurate. Moreover, we can now prove that some of the teaching 
attributed to rabbinic sages who lived after the Roman destruction of 
the Temple actually goes back to earlier predestruction, Pharisaic 

Most of the Qumran material that sheds light on the Pharisees is in 
the form of polemics against their views. The Qumran sect virulently 
disagreed with Pharisaic teachings on a wide variety of theological 
and halakhic matters. When we evaluate this material carefully, 
however, and then compare it to later statements of rabbinic 
tradition, we can reconstruct a great deal about the predestruction 



Let us begin by looking at the so-called Damascus Document (see 
Chapter 5), two copies of which were found nearly a century ago in a 
Cairo synagogue. (At that time they were called the Zadokite 
Fragments.) Fragments of at least eight other copies of the Damascus 
Document were found a half century later in the caves of Qumran. 

The first part of the text as preserved in Cairo manuscripts 
(designated by the siglum CD) is known as the Admonition, and 
among other things includes a list of legal transgressions. These 
transgressions were committed by “the builders of the wall who 
followed [literally, walked after] the ‘commander.’ The ‘commander’ 
is the preacher about whom Fie [either God or the prophet] said, 
‘They shall surely preach’” (CD 4:19-20). 

Who are the builders of the wall? Who is the commander or 
preacher? For the sect, they are the villains; that is for sure. Buried 
in the text are two scriptural allusions that make this clear. One is 
Hosea 5:10-11: 

The commanders of Judah have acted 
Like shifters of field boundaries. 

On them I will pour out 
My wrath like water. 

Ephraim is defrauded 
Robbed of redress. 

The other allusion is to a passage in Micah 2:6: 
“Stop preaching” they preach. 

“That’s no way to preach.” 

The key to the identity of these villains is the content of the laws that 
the Damascus Document condemns. In a series of laws listed there, 
the views of the preacher (the “commander”) and of the builders of 
the wall turn out to be laws known from tannaitic sources as being 


associated with the Pharisees. With these laws the Qumran 
sectarians violently disagreed. 

The designation “builders of the wall” is apparently an adaptation of 
the concept, known from the Mishnah (Avot 1:1), which teaches, 

“build a fence around the Torah.” According to this rabbinic 
maxim, laws not found in the Bible may be created in order to make 
certain that those laws which are in the Torah are not transgressed. 
That is the “fence” around the Torah. Tannaitic sources consider this 
“fence” (siyyag) a positive feature of rabbinic halakhah; the authors 
of the Damascus Document, on the other hand, opposed this 
approach — apparently not only because they disagreed with these 
nonbiblical laws but also because they rejected the idea of expanding 
the biblical commandments in this way. In short, they objected to 
such laws because, in their view, these laws had no biblical basis. 

That this difference of views between the Qumran sect and the 
Pharisees went to the heart of many halakhot is clear from another 
passage from the Damascus Document: 

They [whom we have now identified as the Pharisees] even rendered 
impure their holy spirit and in revelous terms opened (their) mouth 
against the laws of the covenant of God, saying, “They are not correct” 
(CD 5:11-13). 

Later in the Damascus Document, the Pharisees are again called “the 
builders of the wall” who lack understanding: 

All these things the builders of the wall and the plasterers of nothingness 
did not understand. For one who takes wind and preaches falsehood 
preached to them, for which reason God became angry with his entire 
congregation (CD 8:12-13) . . . Since He hated the builders of the wall He 
became angry (CD 8:18). 

Because the Qumran sectarians objected to Pharisaic halakhah not 
based directly on Scripture, the Pharisees are referred to in the 
scrolls as dorshe halaqot, literally “seekers after smooth things.” The 
phrase draws on the biblical usage of halaqot as lies or falsehoods (cf. 
Isaiah 30:10; Psalms 12:3; 12:4; 73:18; and Daniel 11:32). But halaqot 
is also a pun on halakhot, the plural of halakhah and the term for 
religious laws known to us from later rabbinic usage. This pun 
indicates that halakhah as a term for religious laws was already in 
common Pharisaic usage as early as the Hasmonean period. Indeed, a 
study of the rabbinic sources regarding this term shows that the 


word’s original reference was to a law that did not have a direct basis 
in Scripture — for example, a law based on the “tradition of the 
fathers” or “the elders.” 

The Damascus Document clearly refers to the Pharisees when it 
speaks of those who “interpreted false laws” (darshu be-halaqot) and 
choose falsehoods, seek out breaches (opportunities to violate the 
law), choose luxury, declare innocent the guilty, and declare guilty 
the innocent. They violate the covenant and annul the law, and band 
together to do away with the righteous (CD 1:18-20). 

The entire corpus of the Pharisaic laws thus constitutes, in the view 
of the sectarians, “annulment” of the Torah, because it replaces 
biblical laws with the Pharisees’ own rulings. 

A passage in the Thanksgiving (Hodayot) Scroll from Cave 1 may also 
refer to the Pharisees: 

They planned evil [literally, Belial] against me to replace your Torah 
which you taught in my heart with smooth things [that is, false laws which 
they taught] to Your people (1QH 4:10-11). 

The Qumran sectarians object to the Pharisaic laws because they 
regard these Pharisaic halakhot as replacements for the biblical laws 
given by God Himself. The very notion of laws to be added to those of 
the Bible was anathema to the Qumran sectarians. They 
countenanced only laws derived directly from the Torah by what 

they regarded as inspired biblical exegesis. 

The Pesher Nahum — that is, a sectarian commentary on the book of 
the prophet Nahum — from Cave 4 states: 

[Its] interpretation [that is, Nahum 3:4] [con]cerns those who lead 
Ephraim astray, whose falseness is in their teaching [talmud], and whose 
lying tongue and dishonest lip(s) lead many astray (4QpNah 3-4 II, 8). 

Ephraim is a code word for the Pharisees. This designation results 
from the similar sound of Ephraim and the Hebrew word Perushim, 

Pharisees. Manasseh, on the other hand, designates the Sadducees. 
The author of the commentary clearly intended to refer to the 
Pharisaic leaders and teachers — that is, those who lead Ephraim (the 
Pharisees). It is these people that the text likens to those who 
commit the harlotry mentioned in Nahum 3:4. 


Note that the word used for teaching is the Hebrew word talmud, the 
same word used to designate the massive commentaries on the 
Mishnah — the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmuds. 

The presence of the word talmud in this text was, in the early years 

of scrolls research, used to argue for a medieval dating of the scrolls. 
The scholars who made this argument mistakenly took the word 
talmud as a reference to the rabbinic text by that name. The matter is 
much more complex, however. In early tannaitic literature, talmud 
already refers to a method of study — namely, the Pharisaic-rabbinic 
tradition that permits laws to be deduced logically from the biblical 
text. This method is what the Qumran sectarians are excoriating. The 
text proves, however, that this method of legal argument was already 

being used in the later half of the Hasmonean period. 

From the Pharisaic viewpoint, this method was intended to derive 
laws from the Torah. Why, then, was this considered illegitimate by 
the Qumran sectarians since they too practiced legal exegesis? The 
method used by the Pharisees, designated here as talmud, made no 
claim to divine inspiration. For the Qumran sectarians, it was 
therefore illegitimate — a falsehood. 

What do we know of the content of these supposedly false, 
illegitimate Pharisaic laws? A number of Pharisaic rulings are alluded 
to in polemical parts of the Damascus Document — for example, 
Pharisaic rulings permitting remarriage after divorce (CD 4:20-5:1) 
and marriage to one’s niece (CD 5:7-11). 

Recently, our knowledge of these laws has been greatly increased as a 
result of the accessability of the widely discussed, but still 
unpublished, text known as MMT (4Q Miqsat Ma'aseh ha-Torah) (see 
Chapter 3). In MMT’s diatribe against the views of their opponents, 
the Qumran sectarians often describe the views of the Pharisees. 
From this it is possible to reconstruct specific halakhic material that 
can be reliably dated to the early Hasmonean period. 

MMT contains twenty-two laws the authors claim were the cause of 
the schism that led to the founding of the Qumran sect. I believe the 
sect was formed when a group of Sadducean priests left the Temple 
service in the aftermath of the Hasmonean takeover of the Temple 

soon after the Maccabean Revolt, probably by about 152 B.C.E. In 


any event, the laws espoused by the Qumran sectarians in MMT are 
phrased so as to stress the views of the authors and present 

approaches drawn from Sadducean tradition. In Chapter 3, I 
explore in greater detail the Sadducean background of these laws. 
Here we are concerned with what we can learn from MMT about the 


The text of MMT — and also the Temple Scroll — on several occasions 
opposes a principle known in tannaitic halakhah as tevulyom, which 
literally means “one immersed on that day.” According to the concept 
of tevul yom, if a person completes all the purificatory rites — 
including immersion in a ritual bath (mikveh ) — but still awaits the 
setting of the sun on the last day of his purificatory period, he is 
considered pure for purposes of coming into contact with pure food. 
The authors of both MMT and the Temple Scroll oppose this view, 
however. We are specifically told that their opponents — those who 
follow the Pharisaic approach — accept the concept of tevul yom and 
consider such people ritually pure even though the sun has not set 
on the last day of their purificatory period. 

MMT specifically requires the priests who slaughter, and who gather 
and burn the ashes of the red heifer, to be completely pure — that is, 
they must have completed the entire purification period and the sun 
must have set on the day that concludes that period. 

According to the Mishnah (Par ah 3:7), compiled in about 200 C.E., 
this same issue was the subject of controversy between the 
Sadducees and the “elders of Israel,” apparently the Pharisees. The 
Pharisees would purposely defile the priest so as to make him 
perform the ritual involved in a state of tevulyom, in order to contest 
the Sadducean view that prohibited such a priest from officiating 
because of his impurity. 

MMT demonstrates that this was an issue hundreds of years earlier at 
the time of the founding of the Qumran sect. The Pharisaic sages, 
therefore, took this position early in the Hasmonean period. 
Examples like this could be multiplied. In each case a Pharisaic view 
known from later rabbinic sources can be shown to have existed at a 
much earlier period. 

A number of other laws referred to in MMT do not explicitly match 
disputes between the Pharisees and Sadducees as recorded in later 


rabbinic literature, but the view opposed by the Qumran sect is 
attributed in rabbinic literature to the tannaitic (Mishnaic) period. 
MMT thus proves that in some of these cases the tannaitic views are 
in fact those of Hasmonean period Pharisees that continued into the 
tannaitic period. 

MMT is a foundation text of the Qumran sect. It was written in the 
early Hasmonean period when the Temple was managed and its 
rituals conducted in accord with Pharisaic views. The Hasmoneans 
made common cause with the Pharisees in order to cleanse the 
Temple of the excessive Hellenization that they blamed to a great 
extent on the Sadducean priests who had become, in their view, too 


Various elements in MMT and in the Temple Scroll represent the 
polemic of those who continued piously to hold fast to Sadducean 
views against the Hasmoneans and their Pharisaic allies. In this way, 
we learn that predestruction Pharisaic views are indeed to be found 
in later tannaitic sources, both in passages specifically labeled as 
Pharisaic and elsewhere tannaitic laws are discussed. 

Thus, evidence of the ideological underpinnings of Pharisaism and its 
halakhic principles can be found in the Qumran corpus. Sensitively 
read, the Qumran corpus reveals the role of the Pharisees as allies of 

the Hasmoneans in the early Hasmonean period. More important, it 
can no longer be claimed that there is no evidence for the Pharisees 
earlier than the tannaitic materials and Josephus, who wrote after 
the Roman destruction of Jerusalem. In fact, the scrolls provide 
extensive and wide ranging testimony about the predestruction 
history of the Pharisees and their ideology. 

MMT and the Temple Scroll provide evidence of Pharisaic dominance 
over the Temple ritual in the early days of the Hasmonean period. 
These Pharisees held views similar to those claimed for them in 
rabbinic literature. Moreover, they also expressed many positions — 
substantive and theological — later found among the tannaim of the 

In sum, the broad outlines of the Pharisees that emerge from the 
Dead Sea Scrolls are much closer to those described in later rabbinic 
literature than many of us would have thought possible a few years 
ago. It is now clear that we cannot look at rabbinic Judaism as a post- 


70 invention, a consensus brought about by the vicissitudes of the 
Temple’s destruction. Rather, rabbinic Judaism must be seen as a 
continuation of the predestruction Pharisaic tradition. Much more of 
the rabbinic tradition has its roots in Pharisaic teachings than had 
been thought by some. Indeed, the testimony of the rabbis about the 
Pharisees turns out to have been accurate in most details. Many 
specific laws and teachings first attested in the tannaitic (Mishnaic) 
period can be traced back at least to the Hasmonean age. In these 
years Pharisaic views dominated Temple procedure most of the time. 
It was only natural that the successors of the Pharisees would assume 
the mantle of national leadership after the devastation of 70 C.E. In 
short, we must now abandon the model of discontinuity between 
predestruction and postdestruction Judaism and return to a model 
that takes account of the continuities we have observed. 

From this perspective, we are now on the verge of a new era in 
research on Pharisaic-rabbinic Judaism. The Dead Sea Scrolls will 
allow us to uncover much of the early history of this approach to 
Judaism which attained — already in the days of the Temple — the 
dominant position in the Jewish community of the land of Israel. The 
Qumran corpus thus provides a background against which to 
understand many aspects of rabbinic Judaism. 

*Halakhah (plural: halakhot) is the obligatory, legal side of Judaism, 
including Jewish practices and observances, covering daily life, 
festivals, dietary laws, purity rituals, civil and criminal law. 









Just when you think you have measured the true dimensions of the 
Dead Sea Scroll archive, along comes the Copper Scroll— from out 
in left field. It’s totally different. What, if anything, does it have to 
do with the rest of the scrolls? Can it be used, to interpret the 
corpus as a whole or the nature of the sectarian texts? Or is it 
simply the odd scroll out? 

It’s different. No question about that. Written on copper foil, it is 
a description of sixty-four locations containing hidden treasure. 
Imaginary or real? And, if real, are we talking about the Temple 
treasure itself? 

The author of this chapter, P. Kyle McCarter, is the William F. 
Albright Professor of Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at 
the Johns Hopkins University. He is preparing a new edition of the 
Copper Scroll, using some extraordinary new pictures taken by the 
world’s leading photographers of ancient inscriptions, Bruce and 
Kenneth Zuckerman. No one is in a better position to guide us 
through the mysteries of the Copper Scroll than Professor 


The Copper Scroll (known to scholars by the siglum 3Q15 or 
3QTreasure [3Q stands for Qumran Cave 3]) is an anomaly in the 


inventory of Qumran scrolls. It does not fit readily into any of the 
categories customarily included when the scrolls are discussed. It is 
not biblical, it is not literary, and it does not contain sectarian 
doctrine. Written in a language — a form of Hebrew — different from 
the language of any of the other scrolls, and in a script that is not 
quite like any of the others, it is even made of a different material. 
Most of the scrolls are leather, and a few are papyrus, but 3Q15 is a 
sheet of copper. And its content has no true parallel at Qumran or 
anywhere else. It is unique. 

The Copper Scroll was found in 1952. Though the first discoveries at 
Qumran were made in 1947, the process of exploration was 
interrupted by the war that followed the United Nations resolution 
creating the nation of Israel. Because of this interruption, only two 
caves were known to the scholarly community in the early 1950s. By 
that time, however, fragments of leather with writing on them were 
showing up regularly in Jerusalem’s antiquities market, and it was 
clear that other caves had been found by the Bedouin. Early in 1952, 
a major archaeological expedition was mounted under the aegis of 
Jordan’s Department of Antiquities. It was a joint project involving a 
number of the international research institutions working in 
Jerusalem at the time, including principally the Ecole Biblique and 
the American School of Oriental Research. A survey of caves was 
begun in a kind of loose cooperation with the Ta'amireh Bedouin, 
who knew the area best. This survey began the process that led, over 
a period of a few years, to the discovery of the rest of the eleven 

In Cave 3, the first discovered in the 1952 survey, the Copper Scroll 
was found. Other, more conventional leather scrolls were also found 
in Cave 3, but in the back of the cave, off by themselves, were two 
rolls of copper. It later became clear that these were two pieces of 
one scroll, and that was the discovery of 3Q15. 

The scholars who found the Copper Scroll could see that there was 
writing on the inside, because the letters that were punched into the 
thin sheet of metal had embossed the back of the surface with their 
outlines. K. G. Kuhn, a German scholar visiting Jerusalem, noticed 
that the writing seemed to describe the hiding places of treasures of 
silver and gold! He hypothesized that the scroll was an inventory of 

the hidden treasures of the Essene community. There was general 
excitement and a great eagerness to unroll the copper so that the 


scroll could reveal its secrets. Unfortunately, the oxidized metal was 
extremely brittle. The scroll would crumble into pieces if anyone 
tried to unroll it, and the techniques being developed at that time for 
working with leather materials did not apply to copper. 

29. One of the two copper rolls before it was cut open. 
Israel Antiquities Authority 


30. An early picture of the Copper Scroll after being cut apart. 

Israel Antiquities Authority 

After a great deal of discussion, the Copper Scroll was taken to the 
Manchester College of Technology in England and opened by being 
cut into sections with a saw. Soon afterwards, photographs of the 


several sections, now laid out side by side, were taken. These were 
not good-quality photographs even for the mid-1950s, and when the 
Copper Scroll was published, they were reproduced on a grainy 
surface. It is frustrating to go to the publication volume and try to 
use the photographs to reconstruct the text. As a result people have 
been largely dependent over the years on the official edition made by 

J. T. Milik, the scholar who published the text. His drawing is what 
most people use when they read the Copper Scroll. 

Milik’s edition was published in 1962 amid controversy. Although 
formal publication rights had been assigned to Milik, another 
member of the official publication team, John Allegro, was very 
excited by the prospect of a treasure hunt and did not want to wait. 
An Englishman, Allegro went along to Manchester to be present at the 
opening. Two years before Milik’s official edition came out, Allegro 

published his own edition, and then went to the West Bank to start 
looking for the treasure. It was an embarrassing episode that caused 

great consternation. Nevertheless, as idiosyncratic and uncollegial as 
he was, Allegro was a good scholar, and his edition contains much 
that is still useful. 

A few years ago I was asked to prepare a new edition of the Copper 
Scroll to be published under the general editorship of Professor 
James Charlesworth of Princeton Theological Seminary. At the time I 
assumed, quite mistakenly, that I would have to work from the 
existing photographs, because copper and bronze artifacts are subject 
to bronze disease, a particularly destructive form of oxidation. Most 
bronze artifacts that have been out of the ground for very long have 
deteriorated badly. I had faced this problem before, working with 
texts of a quite different type. After making inquiries, however, I was 
delighted to find out that is not the case with the Copper Scroll. 

The Copper Scroll is unusually pure copper — with only about 1 
percent tin — and that seems to have protected it from severe 
oxidation. There has been some deterioration; it is not in the same 
condition as it was in 1952, or even in 1956 when it was opened. But 
in general, we still have the Copper Scroll. It is in the Archaeological 
Museum of Jordan in Amman. (This, by the way, is another way in 
which the Copper Scroll is anomalous: It is not in the Rockefeller 
Museum in Jerusalem or in the Shrine of the Book. The vicissitudes 
of history were such that it wound up in Amman. The Jordanians 


prize the scroll greatly, and have it on display in a special case of 
wood and velvet that was built for it in the 1950s.) 

After I learned these things, it became clear to me that what I needed 
first was new photographs. I could go look at the Copper Scroll (and I 
did that), but I knew I could not work from the scroll itself. Because 
the fragile copper cannot tolerate the kind of handling and 
manipulation that would be necessary to work directly from it, most 
would have to be done from photographs. My hope, therefore, was 
that we could get new ones using the best modern techniques and the 
highest-quality film available. 

It was possible to obtain new photographs only because of a 
collaborative international effort involving the American Center for 
Oriental Research (ACOR), the West Semitic Research Project, and 
Department of Antiquities of Jordan. ACOR, the American 
archaeological center in Amman, facilitates scientific projects in 
Jordan. The staff of ACOR has a close working relationship with 
antiquities officials in Jordan. The director at this time was Professor 
Bert DeVries, a scholar and an archaeologist. He was the key to the 
success of the project to rephotograph the Copper Scroll. 

The director of the West Semitic Research Project is Professor Bruce 
Zuckerman of the University of Southern California, a preeminent 
photographer of inscriptions and ancient manuscripts, which is the 
principal work of the project. He and his brother Ken Zuckerman 
have developed techniques for photographing many kinds of 
materials, and were excited by the challenge of photographing a 
copper document. 

The director of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, Dr. Ghazi 
Bisheh, was very supportive of the plan to produce a new edition of 
the Copper Scroll and of the proposed photography project. His only 
requirement was that we should also develop a conservation plan. 
Not only would we rephotograph the Copper Scroll, but we would 
also try to conserve it. 

The agreement was that the photographs would be taken in 
December 1988. The photographs would be published first in the 
Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan and then as a 
separate volume, which would include the text I would establish on 
the basis of the photographs — that is, a new edition of the scroll — 
and my English translation. A Jordanian scholar, Professor Fawzi 


Zayadine, would prepare an Arabic translation so that both English 
and Arabic translations could be included. 

The museum where the Copper Scroll is kept is on the Amman 
Citadel, the ancient capital that rises as a sharp hill in the middle of 
the modern city. Appropriately enough, the Jordanian Archaeological 
Museum stands near the summit of the citadel. The Copper Scroll is 
in a glass case along with a couple of fragments of leather scrolls. The 
individual pieces (sections) of the Copper Scroll itself are laid down 
on velvet-lined trays in the wooden box that was built for them. 

The first step in the process was to remove the individual trays from 
the case. The director of the museum supervised their move into a 
photography lab that the Zuckerman brothers had set up in the 
museum. They took a series of very high resolution photographs of 
each section with both top and bottom lighting. At the same time, 
they took 35mm shots to keep a record of the project, and a large 
number of Polaroid shots as a preliminary check to be sure that the 
expected results would be achieved. When the Zuckermans returned 
to California, they developed the film both as color prints and as 
transparencies to be studied with back illumination. The results are 
spectacular. The new photographs are vastly superior to the black 
and whites taken in the 1950s. 

Before turning to an analysis of the contents of this unusual 
document, let me comment on its conservation needs. The Copper 
Scroll is in jeopardy. The places touched by the saw in England 
exhibit an oxidation pattern. Centuries in the caves did minimal 
harm, but somehow the insult of the modern tool has started a 
process of deterioration along the cuts. By comparing the new 
photographs with those taken in 1950s, one can see that a fair 
amount of material has been lost — in some sample locations a full 
centimeter — on both sides of each saw cut. The Copper Scroll, in 
other words, is slowly disappearing. There is a substantial amount of 
crumbling along the top and bottom edges, and a number of small 
pieces have fallen down into the case. We have approached 
conservation experts about this project, and they have shown a keen 
interest in our project. 

What will conservation of the Copper Scroll mean? First of all, an 
expert in copper and bronze conservation must go to Jordan and try 
to find some kind of treatment that will stop the oxidation process. 
Second, a new case must be made with special equipment to regulate 


the climate inside. Finally, if the surface of the copper can tolerate it, 
latex casts should be made from which copies of the Copper Scroll 
can be made for distribution to scholars. 

31. The Copper Scroll as displayed in a museum case in Amman. Each section 
retains the curve of the formerly intact, rolled scroll 

Bruce and Kenneth Zuckerman/West Semitic Research Project 



32. One of the new photographs of a section of the Copper Scroll by Bruce and 

Kenneth Zuckerman. 

Bruce and Kenneth Zuckerman/West Semitic Research Project 

Now let me list the peculiarities and problems in working with this 
text. It is written in a form of Hebrew that has a lot in common with 

Mishnaic Hebrew, but is not identical to it. In fact, it is not identical 
to any Hebrew that we know, and is probably a village dialect of 
Hebrew. Although at this time Aramaic was the primary language, 
Hebrew was still spoken in villages, so that we may assume that the 
scribe who produced the Copper Scroll, whoever he might have 
been, was writing in his own dialect with all of its idiosyncracies. 

To continue, the spelling of individual words is often peculiar. We 
know a variety of spelling systems — a variety of kinds of 
orthography, as it is called — from the various Qumran scrolls and 
from other manuscripts; but no orthographic system quite matches 
the one used in the Copper Scroll. Sometimes this seems to be 
because mistakes are being made. At others, it may be that it is not a 
spelling peculiarity but a grammatical peculiarity with which we are 
not familiar. 

Next, the script itself is unusual. Anyone who takes a sheet of copper 
and attempts to write on it with a stylus or some other sharp object 
would probably produce something quite different from his or her 
normal handwriting. Someone who, like our scribe, was accustomed 
to writing with brush and ink on a piece of leather would find that 
his handwriting, when transferred to a metal surface, would be 
considerably distorted. In part, therefore, the handwriting is peculiar 
because the scribe is working on an unfamiliar material. In addition, 
however, it seems likely that this is not the hand of an expert scribe 
such as those who wrote most of the leather manuscripts in the 
Qumran archive. 

In content, the Copper Scroll is a list of sixty-four locations of hidden 
treasures. It has no introduction and no embellishment. It simply lists 
one place after another, usually beginning with a prepositional 
phrase (“In such and such a place . . .”) followed by one of the 
locations; then a quantity of valuables is given. Most of the hidden 
material is silver or gold. Some of it seems to consist of items related 
to certain religious practices, but most of it is silver and gold. The 


quantities are extremely large, perhaps even unreasonably large, and 

they are measured primarily in terms of talents. By Milik’s count, 
approximately 4,630 talents of silver and gold are listed in 3Q15. 
There has been a lot of discussion about the exact size of a talent at 
that time, and there is more than one possibility, ranging from about 
twenty-five to fifty or even seventy-five pounds. A rough calculation 
suggests that the total treasure consisted of something between 58 
and 174 tons of precious metal! Many scholars have found these 
statistics incredible. In any case, they raise a series of questions that 
must be addressed. Was this a real treasure? If so, whose treasure was 
it? If not, why did someone go to the trouble of making the list? 

Before addressing these questions, let me offer some sample 
locations. The first location is “In the ruin that is in the Valley of 
Achor.” Although the biblical Valley of Achor lay south of Jericho, 
Jewish and Christian sources contemporary with the Copper Scroll 

place it northeast of Jericho, probably the Wadi ‘Nuwei'imeh. We 
have no way of knowing what ruin (hrybh) is referred to; perhaps it 
was the name of a village (“Heribah”). The text continues “beneath 
the steps that enter to the east, forty cubits west: a chest of silver and 
its articles. Weight: 17 talents.” The second location, apparently also 
associated with the ruin of the first location, is “In the funerary 
shrine, in the third course of stones: 100 gold ingots.” The third 
location reads, “In the large cistern that is within the Court of the 
Peristylion, in a recess of its bottom, sealed in the entrenchment 
opposite the upper door: nine hundred talents.” A peristylion is a 
small peristyle, that is, a small court surrounded by a colonnade. 
Unless there was such a structure in the ruin where the first two 
caches were hidden, the third location must be in Jerusalem, 
somewhere in the Temple Court. 

The list goes on in this fashion for sixty-four locations. Many times 
the locations are in or near known cities or villages, but often they 
are in villages unknown to us. A few of the locations lie fairly far 
afield from Qumran. Some are to the north, at Shechem and beyond, 
almost into the Galilee. A few seem to be on the east bank of the 
Jordan. Most, however, are either in Jerusalem itself or down the 
main wadi system that goes from Jerusalem toward Jericho and, on 
one of its branches, toward the Wadi Qumran. 

Of the many peculiarities of the Copper Scroll, perhaps the strangest 
of all is the existence of groups of two or three Greek letters that 


follow seven of the locations. These groups of letters — K eN, XAI”, 
HN, 0£, AI, TF and IK — are not words or known abbreviations. 
Various attempts have been made to explain their significance. One 
scholar tried to interpret them as numerical signs related to the 

quantities of treasure in the corresponding locations, but this and 
other efforts to make sense of them have failed to be convincing. 

Many scholars believe that the groups of Greek letters are part of 
some kind of code that helped preserve the secrecy of the hiding 
places, and there are other reasons to believe that the text of the 
Copper Scroll is partly encoded or at least not entirely 
straightforward. The sixty-fourth and last location, for example, is 
not said to contain more treasure but “a duplicate of this document 
and an explanation and their measurements and a precise reckoning 
of everything, one by one.” This gives the impression that the second 
copy contained more complete information than our scroll and 
perhaps instructions for interpreting its cryptic prepositional 
phrases and gargantuan numbers. It might well be that neither 3Q15 
nor the duplicate hidden at location 64 was sufficient by itself to 
locate the hiding places, so that both documents were necessary to 
the successful recovery of the treasure. 

The total amount of gold and silver is so large that the question arises 
whether the treasure was imaginary. Milik believed so and compared 
it to ancient documents from Jewish folklore purporting to describe 
the concealment of the treasure and sacred vessels from the First 
Temple. Documents of that kind, however, are very different in 
character from the Copper Scroll. Typically, they refer to Moses and 
the holy objects whose construction he supervised, such as the Ark, 
the incense altar, the lamp stand (menorah), etc. They often credit 
Jeremiah or some other famous figure of the past with concealing 
the sacred treasures. There is nothing of this kind in the Copper 
Scroll. It is plodding and businesslike. Neither Moses nor Jeremiah is 
there, nor is any famous relic — neither the Ark nor the ashes of the 
red heifer. In fact, it is extremely difficult to imagine that anyone 
would have gone to the trouble to prepare a costly sheet of pure 
copper and imprint it with such an extensive and sober list of 
locations unless he had been entrusted with hiding a real and 
immensely valuable treasure and wanted to make a record of his 
work that could withstand the ravages of time. 

But could the Qumran community have possessed such a treasure? 


We know that the members of the community gave up their 
property to live a communal life, but even so it is difficult to believe 
that the value of their shared property could have amounted to even 
a fraction of the riches recorded in the Copper Scroll. So how are we 
to solve this conundrum? 

Scholars have taken at least three approaches. Some follow Milik in 
supposing the treasure to be imaginary. Others use the Copper Scroll 
as evidence that the material found in the eleven caves did not come 

from the site of Khirbet Qumran but from Jerusalem. A third 
approach, which I prefer, is to argue that the Copper Scroll was 
placed in Cave 3 independently and had nothing to do with the rest of 
the Qumran library. At first glance, this idea may seem difficult to 
accept. It assumes that an extraordinary coincidence took place with 
two caches of roughly contemporary documents being hidden in a 
single cave by independent parties. On the other hand, there are a 
number of things about the Copper Scroll that favor the assumption. 
We have already noted that the Copper Scroll is unique at Qumran. 
Many of its characteristics — the material from which it was made, its 
content, even its language — have no parallel in any of the hundreds of 
other scrolls from the eleven caves. It was found in an isolated part of 
Cave 3, lying apart from the jars and broken pottery where the other 
scrolls were found. There were no scraps of leather or papyrus near 
the two rolls of copper. Roland de Vaux, the chief excavator of 
Qumran and its caves, seriously entertained the possibility that the 
Copper Scroll was deposited independently of the other artifacts in 
Cave 3. 

Thus far we have concluded that the treasure of the Copper Scroll 
was probably a real treasure and that it probably was not a treasure 
that belonged to the Qumran community. We must now attempt to 
discover its origin. It is natural to turn our attention first to the 
Temple in Jerusalem. Probably no other institution in the region at 
the time had the capacity to accumulate a fortune of the magnitude 
indicated in the scroll. Moreover, apart from the gold and silver, most 
of the hidden things listed in the text have associations with the 
Temple and its priesthood, as explained below. For these reasons, 
most of those scholars who study the Copper Scroll think that the 
treasure belonged to the Temple. Many think that the treasure is 
imaginary, as we have noted, but most of those who think so think it 
the imaginary treasure of the Temple. 


Moreover, a specific reference, in location 32, links the Copper Scroll 
to the Temple treasury. Unfortunately, the text describing location 32 
occurs on a damaged edge of cut 13, and it is not as well preserved as 
other parts of the text. Nevertheless, we can read this much: 

In the cave that is next to the founta[in ] 

belonging to the House of Hakkoz, dig six cubits. 

(There are) six bars of gold. 

It is interesting to find treasure hidden on the property of the House 
of Hakkoz (bet haqqos). Hakkoz was the name of a priestly family 
that traced its ancestry to the time of David (1 Chronicles 24:10). The 
family was prominent at the time of the return of the Jews from 
exile in Babylon. Moreover, it remained important in the Hasmonean 
period: In 1 Maccabees 8:17, we are told that Judas Maccabeus 
appointed Eupolemus son of John son of Hakkoz ( tou Akkos) 
ambassador to Rome. 

The Hakkoz estate was in the Jordan Valley not far from Jericho. 
This is shown by the lists of peoples involved in the restoration of 
the walls and gates of Jerusalem under Nehemiah, where one 
contingent of the Hakkoz family (Nehemiah 3:4) works near the men 
of Jericho (Nehemiah 3:2) and immediately alongside the family of 
Hassenaah, whose estate was located a few miles north of Jericho, 
and the other contingent of the Hakkoz family (Nehemiah 3:21) 
works alongside “the men of the Kikkar,” that is, “the men of the 
district of the Jordan (kikkar hay-yarden),” the southern part of the 
Jordan Valley (Nehemiah 3:22). So the Hakkoz estate was located in 
the center of the region where most of the Copper Scroll hiding 
places are located. 

Ezra 2:59-63 and Nehemiah 7:61-65 show that the members of the 
House of Hakkoz were unable to substantiate their genealogy after 
their return from exile, so that they were disqualified from priestly 
duties. We should expect that under such circumstances they would 
have been assigned some other task that supported the Temple 
operation but did not require the highest degree of genealogical 
purity. In Nehemiah 3:4 we learn that the leader of the family at the 
time of Nehemiah’s reconstruction of the walls of Jerusalem was 
“Meremoth son of Uriah son of Hakkoz,” and in Ezra 8:33 we are told 


that the Temple treasure, when it was brought back from Babylon, 
was entrusted to “the priest Meremoth son of Uriah.” In short, the 
Hakkoz family were the treasurers of the Temple! 

It seems very likely, then, that the Copper Scroll treasure was wealth 
associated somehow with the Temple in Jerusalem. It may be 
possible to explain this association more precisely by examining 
some of the technical religious terminology found in the text. We can 
do this by moving on to the fourth location, which is “On the mound 
of Kochlit,” a prominent place in the Copper Scroll, though its 
location is disputed. This time the treasure is not gold or silver but 
“vessels of contribution with a lagin and ephods.” The term 
translated “contribution” is dema c , which refers to the portion of 

agricultural produce that was contributed to the Temple for the 
support of the priesthood. It is a synonym for the so-called “heave 
offering” (teruma), and it occurs many times in the Copper Scroll. 
Other terms also have sacerdotal connections. A lagin was a type of 
vessel, sometimes used to hold grain from the priests’ share of the 

produce. Ephods were priestly garments. 

Our text goes on to explain that “All of the contribution and the 
accumulation of the seventh (year) is second tithe.” The 
“accumulation of the seventh year” is the seventh-year produce, 
probably redeemed as money, which was collected and delivered to 

the central treasury in Jerusalem. The second tithe was either eaten 
by the tither in Jerusalem or converted into money and then brought 
to Jerusalem (cf. Deuteronomy 14:22-26). 

These technical terms — contribution, accumulation of the seventh 
year, and second tithe — provide the clue to solving the riddle of the 
Copper Scroll. They all refer to tithes and other priestly contributions 
that were required by law to be set aside, collected, and taken to 
Jerusalem for the support of the Temple and the priesthood. Twenty- 
five years ago, Manfred Lehmann followed these clues to their logical 
conclusion. He noted that if for some reason it was not possible to 
take the wealth accumulated from tithes and contributions to 

Jerusalem, it had to be hidden or buried. He believed that the 
Copper Scroll treasure was accumulated when the Temple lay in 
ruins during the period between the First and Second Revolts, that is, 
between 70 and 130 A.D. The basis of the treasure was “taxes, gifts, 
tithes and consecrations.” As Lehmann explained: 


. . . the Scroll reflects a period when various types of such items had been 
redeemed for money or precious metals and had been centrally gathered 
and accumulated for the purpose of delivery to Jerusalem and/or the 
Temple, but for political or Halakhic reasons [reasons of religious law] 
could not be taken to their legal destination. Because of the prolonged 
inaccessibility of Jerusalem and/or the Temple, these objects had to be, 
temporarily or permanently, committed to Genizah [a storage place for 

sacred objects] according to legal requirements. 

Although Lehmann’s argument has been given little scholarly 
attention, I believe that it advances our understanding of the Copper 
Scroll immensely. It takes seriously the technical meaning of 3Q15’s 
religious terminology, which most other studies have failed to 

understand. It also makes sense of the enormous quantities of gold 
and silver listed in the scroll; they could easily have accumulated 
during the period between the two revolts. Nevertheless, one serious 
problem stands in the way of Lehmann’s hypothesis. The script of 
the Copper Scroll belongs to the latter part of the Herodian period, 

roughly 25-75 A.D. In all probability the Copper Scroll, like the 
rest of the Qumran library, was deposited in Cave 3 before or very 
soon after the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. 

It seems likely, then, that the Copper Scroll treasure consisted of 
tithes and contributions gathered in the final, turbulent years before 
the destruction of the Temple. It is possible that the treasure arrived 
at the Temple shortly before the war began, then was removed from 
the city in secret and hidden when the Roman army appeared in the 
Galilee. It seems more likely, however, that much of the treasure 
never reached the Temple. In view of the steadily growing chaos in 
the last years before the arrival of Vespasian’s army, the Jews who 
had the responsibility for gathering tithes and contributions may 
have felt it unwise to deposit them in the public treasury. Instead 
they elected to divide up the treasure and hide it in a large number of 
different locations east of the city. 








This chapter describes how scholars attempt to solve the various 
types of jigsaw puzzles that the fragmentary scrolls present. The 
large intact scrolls, mostly from Cave 1, are easy. There is not 
much to put together; it’s almost all there. 

The fragmentary scrolls present a more difficult problem. 
Numerous clues enable scholars to segregate fragments of a 
particular scroll — the nature of the material on which it is written, 
various physical characteristics of the scroll and the writing on it, 
the literary characteristics of the text, and the handwriting of the 

The next task is arranging the fragments in some kind of order. 
When the complete text is known from later exemplars — as in the 
case of books of the Bible, apocrypha and pseudepigrapha — the 
known text provides a guide just as a picture on the box of a 
jigsaw puzzle does. 

The really hard cases are unknown documents without joins. The 
author of this chapter, Hartmut Stegemann, has devised an 
imaginative and creative way of arranging these fragments in a 
meaningful order based on the pattern of damage — damage 
caused by rodents, insects, and humidity each eating through a 
rolled-up scroll The results of the author’s new method are 
nothing short of astounding. 



When the first Dead Sea Scrolls came to light, putting their pieces 
together wasn’t really a problem. Indeed, one scroll from Qumran 
Cave 1 is almost complete. There was nothing to put together. That 

was the famous Isaiah Scroll, known to scholars as lQIs a . The siglum 
stands for Qumran Cave 1, Isaiah Scroll; the superscript “a” 
distinguishes this Isaiah scroll from another one found in the same 

cave, known as lQIs^. 

Other scrolls from Cave 1 — as much as survived — are mainly in one 
large piece, so there is little to put together. That is true of such 
scrolls as the Habakkuk Commentary, the scroll of the War of the 
Sons of Light and Sons of Darkness, and the Manual of Discipline. 
Only two of the seven intact scrolls from Cave 1 were partly broken 
into pieces and had to be restored, although, in addition to these 
intact scrolls, many fragments were also found in Qumran’s Cave 1. 
Approximately seventy-five fragmentary scrolls have now been 
identified from Cave 1. 

Gradually, as a result of searches by both professional archaeologists 
and Bedouin tribesmen, scrolls and fragments of scrolls have also been 
found in ten other Qumran caves, designated 2Q through 11Q. In 
addition, scroll materials were found in excavations and in caves in 
other wadis leading down to the Dead Sea — Masada, Nahal Hever, 
Wadi Murabba'at, Nahal Se’elem and Wadi Daliyeh. 

In all, fragments from about eight hundred different scrolls have been 
recovered from the eleven Qumran caves alone. Their fragments vary 
in size from large panels containing several columns to thumbnail 
pieces containing only a single letter. One composition, found in 3Q 
and known appropriately enough as the Copper Scroll, is written on 
copper sheets. In addition, a few ostraca (inscriptions on pieces of 
pottery) have been found. But the balance are all written on leather 
(parchment) or papyrus. 

The quantity of fragments varies, of course, from cave to cave. The 
biggest cache came from 4Q, which contained more different 
documents than all the other caves combined — about 580 different 
manuscripts. The number of fragments into which these 580 
manuscripts were broken has never been determined with any 
accuracy. Estimates vary between tens of thousands to hundreds of 


thousands. About 75 percent of these manuscripts from 4Q still 
remain unpublished and are therefore not yet available to most 

The first task in reconstituting any fragmentary Dead Sea document is 
to isolate and collect the pieces that come from the same scroll. 
Sometimes it’s easy to identify such fragments because they are stuck 
together. But more often they are scattered all over the place. 

Three basic clues enable the scholar to gather together the fragments 
from a single scroll. The first clue comes from the material on which 
it is written. Obviously, a fragment on leather parchment is not part 
of the same scroll as a fragment on papyrus. But beyond this, 
parchment itself varies and so does papyrus. Some scrolls are written 
on thick material, others on thin. The color may also vary from 
brown to yellow or reddish, and it may be bright, or dark, or in 

Another clue comes from the fact that ancient scribes prepared their 
scrolls for inscribing by scoring the scroll at regular intervals with 
fine lines to guide their hand. The space between these lines varies 
and, after inscribing the text, the space between the lines of text 
varies. The text is sometimes written hanging on the lines, sometimes 
between them; this, too, helps identify the fragments from the same 
sample. The size of the spaces between the lines is another important 
clue as to which fragments come from the same document. Finally, 
the number of lines in each column of a given scroll is somewhat 
regular, as is the width of the columns. Observation of these 
similarities also helps in correlating fragments coming from the same 

Third, the handwriting of the different scribes varies. Scholars who 
work with these scrolls regularly are able to distinguish between 
these different hands. Usually, although not always, a single scribe 
worked on each scroll. By identifying his handwriting, a modern 
scholar can tell whether or not a particular fragment belongs to a 
scroll written by that scribe. 

In this way, the pieces of a single scroll are assembled. The result is 
often a box of scraps that resembles a jigsaw puzzle. There is a 
difference, however. Many, often most, of the pieces of this jigsaw 
puzzle remain missing. How then do we reconstruct the scroll itself? 
How do we tell the way in which the pieces related to one another in 


the original manuscript? 

In the case of biblical manuscripts, this is not too difficult. The 
biblical text itself, like the picture on the box of a jigsaw puzzle, 
provides the grid, or pattern, on which each of the surviving pieces 
of the ancient manuscript can be located. The complete biblical text, 
as it has come down to us, serves as a kind of mirror of the ancient 
text, onto which surviving pieces of the ancient text can be placed. 
We can place these pieces on the mirror even if we have very few 
pieces. This process becomes somewhat, but not much, more 
complicated because there are variations, usually minor, even in 
biblical texts. 

This same method of reconstruction is used for nonbiblical 
manuscripts of which we have other, complete copies of ancient 
versions. Fragments of apocryphal books such as Tobit and Ben Sira 
are among the Dead Sea fragments that can be reconstructed by using 
a modern edition of these well-known books. Other Dead Sea 
fragments come from still other manuscripts of which we have later 
documents — such as the so-called Damascus Document or fragments 
of the books of Enoch. 

Finally, sometimes more than one copy of a text has been found at 
Qumran itself. Fragments from eight or nine copies of the Songs of 
the Sabbath Sacrifice were recovered there. In addition to the large 
Temple Scroll — which is nearly twenty-six and a half feet long — 
fragments from another copy survived. Occasionally, as in these 
cases, one copy can serve as a grid for the reconstruction of another 

Nearly 40 percent of the Dead Sea Scrolls can be reconstructed totally, 
or at least partly, in this way. About 20 percent of the documents are 
biblical documents — approximately 170 manuscripts. Fragments 
from every book of the Hebrew Bible, except Esther, have shown up 
at Qumran. Another 20 percent of the documents are from texts 
otherwise known, either from modern copies of ancient versions or 
from ancient copies. In addition, some fragments, while not strictly 
biblical, quote biblical passages or paraphrase biblical texts, so the 
Bible provides help in the reconstruction of the original order of the 
surviving fragments. 

But this leaves more than 50 percent of the Dead Sea Scroll 
manuscripts — formerly unknown texts — with no grid to use for 


reconstructing the fragments, for placing the pieces in relationship to 
one another. Most of these previously unknown texts found in the 
Dead Sea caves have survived in very fragmentary pieces that are in a 
poor state of preservation. 

The first Dead Sea Scroll publication of previously unknown texts 
that survived partly in fragments made no effort to place them in any 
order, let alone to reconstruct the text. In 1954 (two years after the 
death of the senior editor, E. L. Sukenik), Nahman Avigad published 
the fragments from the famous Thanksgiving Hymns scroll from Cave 
1. He divided the dislocated pieces according to the different scribal 
hands that had copied the hymns, presented the large fragments first, 
and concluded with the smaller ones, a total of sixty-six dislocated 
fragments from this scroll. This pattern has generally been followed 
by later editors. Usually the editors of such manuscripts arrange the 
fragments of their scrolls according to size, from the larger ones to 
the smaller ones, without any attempt at reconstructing the original 
state of the scroll. Indeed, very few attempts have been made in the 
Qumran editions — most of which have been published by J. T. Milik 
— toward any kind of reconstruction of the original scrolls. The main 
problem is the total lack of any well-established method for 
reconstructing fragmentary scrolls without the help of parallel texts. 

The principal means for reconstructing such texts is that employed 
in jigsaw puzzles — finding pieces that join. They have 
complementary borders. The join has to be sufficient and sufficiently 
distinct to assure that in fact the two pieces do connect. In addition 
to the physical shape of the pieces, joins are often indicated because 
the two pieces divide a word or even a letter. These kinds of 
connecting joins are called “material joins” because they are based on 
the physical characteristics, rather than on the thematic content, of 
the pieces. 

Incidentally, material joins are also useful in connection with 
manuscripts for which we have modern texts to use as a grid. The 
material join is often even more reliable than the grid of a parallel 
text, for the particular text may vary from the text in the grid. Even 
in the case of biblical manuscripts, few of them are word-for-word 

In addition to material joins, some reconstruction can be 
accomplished on the basis of thematic context. Even though the 
fragments themselves do not connect with one another, they can be 


arranged in relation to one another. These are called “distant joins.” 
Obviously, such joins are often rather speculative. 

Recently, however, I have developed a method of identifying distant 
joins — placing nonconnecting fragments in relation to one another — 
that has produced some remarkable results. The key element in this 
new method is the relationship of fragments containing similarly 
shaped, damaged areas. 

By definition, scroll fragments are damaged. That is why they are 
fragments instead of complete scrolls. But studying how they were 
damaged, we can learn how — at least in part — they can be put 
together again. 

Almost all of these Qumranic fragments come from scrolls (as 

opposed to separate sheets ) that had been rolled up and then 
damaged in the Dead Sea caves while still rolled up. 

Those who are familiar with modern Torah scrolls used in 
synagogues know that these scrolls, containing the five books of 
Moses, have posts or rolling sticks at both ends of the scroll to 
facilitate rolling from one end to the other. But that was not true of 

ancient scrolls such as the Qumran scrolls. They were simply rolled 
up, forming a hollow tube or shaft in the center of the rolled-up 
scroll. At both the beginning and end of the ancient scroll were blank 
sheets that the reader could hold to roll the scroll backward or 
forward without having to place his hands on the inscribed 
parchment or papyrus. These blank sheets at the beginning and end 
of the scroll are called “handle sheets.” 

Some of the scrolls found in the Dead Sea caves were stored there in 
jars, but most were simply laid, stacked or leaned against one 
another, otherwise unprotected. Over the millennia, many of the 
scrolls were very extensively damaged. The two principal agents of 
damage were humidity and animals (rodents and insects). The 
damage thus produced, however, was patterned and repeated. When 
the bottom part of the scroll touched a wet place, the last lines of all 
the columns often disappeared. When the scroll stood on its head, it 
was the tops of all the columns that vanished in the course of the 
centuries. The edges thus damaged follow a repeated pattern. Other 
than at the edges, humidity might attack a scroll from the outer layer 
or from the inner layer (via the hollow shaft at the center of the 


rolled-up scroll). Sometimes the damage would eat all the way 
through, but occasionally the innermost layers would remain 
undamaged, protected by the sheer bulk of the scroll. Damage by 
rodents and insects, who enjoyed eating the scrolls, occurred in much 
the same patterned way. 

The result is that the holes and breaks in a scroll have similar or even 
identical shapes through the several damaged layers. This pattern is 
also found in the fragments that originated from these holes and 

If one tries to reconstruct the text of a scroll (what is written on it), 
all the holes and breaks are annoying and only sources of trouble, 
repeatedly interrupting the text. But if one tries to reconstruct the 
scroll itself, the patterned shapes of these holes and breaks are a 
reliable aid in arriving at the original order of what remains of the 
scroll fragments. 

What can we learn from these patterned shapes of damage? First, 
fragments showing corresponding shapes of damage must be 
positioned along the same horizontal axis as measured from the top 
or the bottom of the original scroll. 

Second, the distance between the repeated patterns can often enable 
us to place the fragments in a particular order. This is because the 
distance between corresponding damage increases as one moves from 
the inner layers of the scroll outward, and decreases as one moves 
inward from the exterior layers. The rate of this increase or decrease 
can actually be mathematically calculated, based on the thickness of 
the leather or papyrus, and the tightness with which the scroll was 
rolled or wrapped. 


33. Whatever agent of destruction ate into this scroll (the War Scroll from Cave 
1 ) penetrated several layers, leaving corresponding shapes as indicated by the 
arrows. When unrolled these corresponding shapes form a pattern that can guide 


Israel Museum, Jerusalem/Shrine of the Book 

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34. The Psalm Scroll from Cave 1 1. The arrows identify corresponding points of 
damage inflicted when the scroll was rolled up. The distance between the points 
of damage (greater on the outer layers) tells the restorer where to place 



Israel Museum, Jerusalem/Shrine of the Book 

35. The Temple Scroll Left arrow points to the sewing margin, which has left an 
impression at right arrow. A mirror-image text has been picked up on the back of 
the scroll as seen on the roll at right. These provide valuable clues for 
reconstructing the text. 

Israel Museum, Jerusalem/Shrine of the Book 

Other clues are also helpful. Was the beginning of the scroll in the 
outer layer or the inner layer? Generally, the larger scrolls — those 
with fifty or more columns, often exceeding twenty feet in length — 
were rolled with the end on the inside. These scrolls were also tightly 
rolled, so the increase in distance between corresponding points of 
damage is quite short — from about one twenty-fifth to one-fifth of an 
inch. Shorter scrolls — a class generally between five and six feet long 
and containing between twelve and twenty columns — were more 
loosely rolled. The increase in distance between corresponding points 
of damage in these scrolls is mostly about one-fifth of an inch. 
Finally, a third class of scrolls begins the text on the innermost layer, 
instead of on the outermost layer. Such scrolls are almost always 
loosely rolled, regardless of their length. In these, the increase in 
distance between corresponding points of damage is relatively large. 

Accordingly, once we identify corresponding points of damage, we 


measure the thickness of the leather, or papyrus, and attempt to 
determine the tightness of the wrap, the original length of the scroll, 
and whether it began on the innermost or outermost layer. It is also 
helpful to know the width of the columns; strangely enough, there 
was no standard column width at Qumran. We also like to know the 
number of columns on a sheet; remember that all scrolls are 
ultimately made up of sheets that were sewn or pasted together. 
Lastly, it helps to know the number of lines in a column, which 
varies from about seven to about fifty in a given scroll, but is 
relatively constant through all its columns. 

Unfortunately, there is no comprehensive, up-to-date survey of the 
physical characteristics of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Most of the 
published editions of the Dead Sea Scrolls present very little 
information of this kind and often totally lack it. An exception is 
Yigael Yadin’s edition of the Temple Scroll: What he presents is 
excellent, but unfortunately relates only to that scroll. 

A survey of the scrolls’ physical characteristics would be of 
enormous assistance in reconstructing both published and 
unpublished scrolls. With this information, we could in many cases 
establish the position of scattered fragments in the original scrolls 
and thus make evident the structure and content of many ancient 
texts. This is true even with regard to scroll fragments that have long 
been published. 

One example from my own work will suffice. In 1982, 215 fragments 

of a scroll from Cave 4 were published by Maurice Baillet. One 
fragment of twelve lines (4Q511, fragment no. 10) was clearly from 
the beginning of the text. Another fragment from another scroll 
(4Q510) was a parallel text; so on this basis, the first column of this 
scroll, with eighteen lines of the text, could be reliably reconstructed 
without any technical support. The distance between corresponding 
points of damage on this first fragment is about 4.7 inches. Another 
long strip from the top of the scroll represents the last two columns 
of the text. On this strip the distance between points of damage is 
only about 1.9 inches at the left end. Other fragments reveal a 
distance between corresponding points of damage of 2.75 inches and 
3.5 inches. These fragments can thus be arranged according to their 
original positions in the scroll. The final result is a continuous 
sequence of all twelve columns of the original scroll, representing 
about 80 percent of the original text. This scroll is called Sons of the 


Sage. Instead of the 215 scattered fragments in the published 

edition, we now have a nice, well-established sequence of several 
songs. One can study their contents and style of composition, relate 
them to other poetical texts of their time, etc. True, it takes several 
weeks to complete such a reconstruction. But the reward is, instead 
of a list of hypothetical suggestions, an accurate, methodically well- 
established, new edition of a text formerly unknown to the scholarly 
world. We should hardly be surprised that the fragments as 
published give only a very poor notion of their true importance. 

I " 5 

36. The unjoined fragments from the scroll known as the Songs of the 
Sabbath Sacrifice were placed in relation to one another by identifying 
corresponding points of damage (marked by lines and arrows). 

Israel Antiquities Authority /Courtesy Carol Newsom 








Anti-Semitism ( and anti-Israeli sentiments) have always been in 
the background of what has become known as the Dead Sea Scroll 
scandal — starting with the fact that Jews were excluded from the 
team of editors assembled to edit this library of Jewish religious 

In late 1990 anti-Semitism took center stage when chief scroll 
editor John Strugnell expressed virulently anti-Jewish (and anti- 
Israeli) views in an interview with an Israeli reporter that was 
published first in the Tel Aviv daily newspaper Ha-Aretz and then 
in the Biblical Archaeology Review. 

Shortly after the interview, his fellow editors voted to relieve 
Strugnell of his position as chief editor for "health" reasons (they 
did not take away from him his hoard of unpublished scroll 
assignments, however). 

This chapter contains the interview that led to Strugnell’s 
dismissal. In this interview, Strugnell claims to know of four other 
Dead Sea Scrolls. These have not yet come to light. From time to 
time rumors of more scrolls have surfaced but nothing more 
concrete has ensued. 



John Strugnell, chief editor of the Dead Sea Scrolls, agreed to an 
interview provided I report it not only in the Hebrew paper for 
which I write, Ha-Aretz, but also in an English-language publication. 
This fulfills my obligation to report the interview in English. The 
interview took place on October 28, 1990, in Professor Strugnell’s 
small room at the “French School,” the Ecole Biblique et 
Archeologique Frangaise in East Jerusalem. 

It was he who first brought up the subject of his anti-Semitism. 
When I asked him whether he was anti-Israel, he replied, “That’s a 
sneaky way of coming at the anti-Semitic question, isn’t it?” 

Later in the interview, I asked him directly whether he was an anti- 
Semite. He rejected this term: “I can’t allow the word anti-Semitism 
to be used. I think it’s a sort of mixed-up, messed-up term that was 
introduced in Germany, a country of muddle-headed philosophers. 
It’s a cover word for: Are you against Jews? Are you against Israelis? 
Are you against the state of Israel? Are you against Zionism? [It has] 
nothing to do with being against Semites. I’m not an anti-Semite. I’ve 
spent my life studying various Semites from Ethiopia to Baghdad. I 
don’t know anyone in the world who’s an anti-Semite.” 

He was, he said, an “anti-Judaist.” “Judaism,” he said, “is originally 
racist . . . it’s a folk religion; it’s not a higher religion. An anti-Judaist, 
that’s what I am. There, I plead guilty. I plead guilty in the way the 
Church has pleaded guilty all along, because we’re not guilty; we’re 
right. Christianity presents itself as a religion which replaces the 
Jewish religion. The correct answer of Jews to Christianity is to 
become Christian. I agree that there have been monstrosities in the 
past — the Inquisition, things like that. We should certainly behave 
ourselves like Christian gentlemen. But the basic judgment on the 
Jewish religion is, for me, a negative one.” 

Strugnell denied that his attitude toward Judaism affected his work. 
“Unless someone talks to me about the subject [of Judaism], I don’t, 
when I’m working on a Qumran text, think how stupid and wrong 
the Jews were. I’m concerned with trying to find out what a 
document is saying in its context.” 

I asked him what annoyed him about Judaism. He replied, “The fact 
that it has survived when it should have disappeared. Christianity 
now uses much more irenic language for all this. These are brutal 
terms; I’m putting it in harsh terms. For me the answer [to the 


Jewish problem] is mass conversion.” 

“But what annoys you about it?” I asked. 

“It’s the subsistence of the group, of Jews, of the Jewish religion. It’s 
a horrible religion. It’s a Christian heresy, and we deal with our 
heretics in different ways. You are a phenomenon that we haven’t 
managed to convert — and we should have managed. 

“I believe that the answer for Islam, and Buddhism, and all other 
religions is to become Christian. Judaism disturbs me in a different 
sense, because, whereas the others became Christians when we 
worked hard on them, the Jews stuck to an anti-Christian position.” 

Strugnell also expressed himself regarding the state of Israel. His 
“first love,” he said, “was Jordan”: 

“That’s where the scrolls were found; the Jordanian government 
collected the scrolls. I worked with the Jordanians and I got to know 
and like them. I dislike Israel as an occupier of part of Jordan. And 
it’s quite obvious that this was part of Jordan.” 

Despite his views about Israel and Judaism, Strugnell says some of 
his friends are Israelis: 

“You know what the anti-Semites say: ‘Some of my best friends are 
Jews.’ Well, some of my friends are Israelis. But the occupation of 
Jerusalem — and maybe of the whole state — is founded on a lie, or at 
least on a premise that cannot be sustained. That’s putting it as 
crudely as I can. The occupation of Jerusalem cannot be sustained.” 

“Just look at the Crusades,” he continued. “We couldn’t maintain it. 
We — the English and the French — couldn’t maintain the Crusades 
even though we had immense military superiority at the start and we 
did great things in the country. One of the great building periods was 
the Crusades; but, basically, they were unsustainable. That’s me on 

Although he found Israel’s position untenable, he was not ready to 
recommend dismantling the Jewish state: 

“The question whether I’m against the state of Israel is a political 
question, just like whether I’m against Kuwait or Iraq. I think I 


answered that. At the moment I find your position untenable, but I 
don’t think that the maintenance of an Israeli state or a Zionist state 
is impossible. In the future. It will require certain negotiation, but I 
see no reason why it . . .” 

“But you’re not in favor of it?” 

“Well, it’s a fact. You’ve got four million people here, even though 
the Zionists based themselves on a lie. But they’re here now; you’re 
not going to move populations of four million. Not even the Nazis 
managed that. 

“I disapprove of the present state of Israel but I’m not opposed to a 
‘Jewish national home,’ in the old language [of the Balfour 
Declaration], which could well be a state, or which could well be a 
canton or federation. 

“Am I opposed to Zionism? I think we’ve had enough of it, but you 
can’t say it’s not there. It would’ve been nice if it hadn’t existed, but 
it has, so it’s covered by a sort of grandfather clause.” 

Regarding the scrolls, Strugnell claims at least four other scrolls have 
been found that have not yet come to light: “I’ve seen, with my own 
eyes, two.” One of the two is a complete copy of the book of Enoch. 
According to Strugnell, Israeli archaeologist Yigael Yadin is the reason 
these scrolls have still not come into scholarly hands. After the Six- 
Day War, Yadin confiscated the famous Temple Scroll from a 
Bethlehem antiquities dealer known as Kando. Yadin paid Kando 
$250,000, according to Strugnell (according to Yadin, the sum was 
$105,000), to encourage anyone else with scroll materials to come 
forward. But this was not enough, says Strugnell: “Yadin gave Kando 
two hundred fifty thousand dollars where we’d offered Kando one 
million five weeks earlier. When the owners of the manuscripts 
heard that, they just crossed the Jordan River.” These scrolls, like the 
Temple Scroll, came from Cave 11 at Qumran, according to Strugnell. 
The manuscripts are now “somewhere in Jordan. Various people 
own them. Several of them have been sold to big bankers. They’re 
investments for these people. There’s no point in forcing a sale. If 
they really need cash — as one seems to now — I have the money.” 

As for the other two scrolls — the ones Strugnell has not seen 
— “ [Lankester] Harding [the director of Jordan’s Department of 
Antiquities] on his death bed told me he’d seen three, only one of 


which I’ve seen — so that makes four.” 

Strugnell is not concerned that the scrolls may deteriorate before 
scholars can look at them: “They’re all being kept very carefully; no 
one need worry about them. They’re a better investment than 
anything on the Israeli or the New York stock exchanges,” he added. 

Strugnell blames Israel’s Antiquities Authority for the loss of a 
quarter million dollars in research funds by delaying the confirmation 
of his appointment as chief editor of the scrolls following the death 
of the former chief editor in 1987, Pere Pierre Benoit: 

“The Israeli Department of Antiquities took such a long time about it 
[confirming Strugnell as chief editor] that we lost quite a large 
amount of money. People who were wanting to give us money 
wanted to make sure that I was in charge, so we lost one very 
handsome gift of some two hundred fifty thousand dollars.” 

Strugnell came across quite humanly. He even told me about the 
humor he enjoyed: 

“Racial stereotypes are one of the greatest things in our humor — 
where would we be without Armenian jokes, Polish jokes, Jewish 
jokes? This may be taken to mean that I detest a whole class of 
people, but that’s not true.” 

Strugnell claims that many Jews were able to see the Dead Sea Scrolls 
even when they were in Jordanian hands: 

“Although tourists had to get a certificate of baptism [to enter 
Jordan], I saw the most Jewish-looking people come into the 
museum [in Amman] with [these certificates].” 

Although Strugnell reads Hebrew, he does not speak it: 

“I read [it], but speaking it requires people to speak to. In my work, 
people speak much better English.” 

Nor is Strugnell much interested in Jewish law. He leaves this aspect 
of his work to Jewish colleagues. I asked Strugnell if he had studied 
the Talmud: 

“I studied it at university, though to me it’s not existentially 


interesting. St. Paul said Christ set us free from the Law. I’m glad my 
Jewish colleagues handle this aspect [of his work].” 

“The fact that you’re not interested in Jewish law doesn’t prevent 
you from appreciating the importance of some of this material?” I 

“I know enough to know who to go to. The text I’m working on now 
[MMT] is of course full of law. And the thing that really delayed me 
from finishing that work was knowing that I was incompetent to deal 
with that side of things.” 





The interview published in the previous chapter led not only to 
John Strugnell’s dismissal as chief editor, but also to a discussion of 
anti-Semitism as it related to the scroll publication process. Eighty- 
six of Strugnell’s colleagues and former students signed a letter 
expressing their gratitude to Strugnell as "a man who has 
contributed so much to the study of ancient Judaism." While 
indicating their "dismay" at the "grossly insensitive and 
reprehensible statements about Jews and Judaism," the signatories 
suggested that these statements might have been the result of 
illness. At least, the signatories said, they had "never read or heard 
any evidence of anti- Judaism in [ Strugnell’s ] scholarship or 

Biblical Archaeology Review decided to publish a full-blown 
treatment of the issue of anti-Semitism in relation to the scrolls. 
This forms the following chapter. 


For years the issue of anti-Semitism has lurked beneath the surface 
of the scrolls. Everyone hoped it wouldn’t surface. To introduce the 
issue into the scrolls controversy would do no one any good, it was 
universally conceded. So silence about anti-Semitism has a long and 
honorable tradition in Dead Sea Scroll history. 


No one has been happy that, with the Strugnell interview, anti- 
Semitism has now raised its ugly head. Everyone thought the issue 
was finally dead and buried, since scroll research had been opened to 
Jewish scholars (including Israelis). 

On October 27, 1990, just one day before Strugnell gave his interview 
to the Ha-Aretz correspondent, I myself tried to lay the issue to rest 
at an all-day public forum sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution 
in Washington, D.C. In my opening remarks, I went out of my way to 
emphasize that the current members of the publication team were 
“certainly without prejudice.” In the question period, someone asked 
me about the fact that the original eight-man scroll publication team, 
appointed in 1953 under Jordanian auspices, was Judenrein (Jewish- 
free). I explained that the “bias [of the Jordanians] did not extend to 
the scholars themselves” and that today Jews are on the publication 
team. “That bias,” I said, “plays no part today.” I even cited John 
Strugnell as an example: “He has enlisted several prominent Israeli 
scholars [on the project].” 

In retrospect, one wonders whether it was right to remain silent in 
1953 when, under Jordanian auspices, a “Jew-free” team was 
appointed to publish the scrolls. The Dead Sea Scrolls are, after all, a 
library of ancient Jewish religious texts. If anyone protested at the 
time the team was appointed, there is no record of it. Presumably — if 
anyone thought of it — it was considered wiser to accede to Jordanian 
sensitivities than to jeopardize the project. Perhaps so. But what 
would have happened if some Jews had been added to the team along 
the way? In any event, until the Six-Day War in 1967, Jewish 
scholars were completely cut out of the work on the scrolls under the 
editing team’s authority. 

In the Six-Day War, however, the unpublished scrolls, which were 
housed in the Palestine Archaeological Museum in East Jerusalem, 
fell into Israeli hands. The Israelis were now in control of the scrolls. 
Yet a funny thing happened. Not a single voice was raised to correct 
the situation. No one said now that the Jordanian government is no 
longer in control, we can appoint some Jewish scholars, maybe even 
some Israeli scholars, to the team. 

On the contrary, timid Israelis affirmed the “publication rights” of 
the “Jew-free” team, provided only that the scholars on the team 
publish the scrolls quickly. The rest of the community of scholars 
remained silent. 


One factor that further complicated the matter was that several 
members of the original editing team were openly and vehemently 
anti-Israel. Harvard’s Frank Cross was a notable and distinguished 
exception to the anti-Israel bias of the team of editors. In contrast, 
another surviving member of the original team has to this day never 
set foot in Israel. For years after 1967, team scholars working in East 
Jerusalem refused to cross the old border between East and West 
Jerusalem, thus, in their own way, denying Israel’s existence. A 
latter-day vestige of this attitude was John Strugnell’s refusal in late 
1990 to be treated in a Jewish hospital in West Jerusalem despite a 
serious medical problem and despite the inferior facilities in the 
Arab hospital to which he was admitted. Even the sheikhs of Saudi 
Arabia don’t go that far in their animosity toward the state of Israel. 
Strugnell’s refusal to go to an Israeli hospital is consistent with the 
statements in his interview that “it would’ve been nice if it 
[Zionism] never existed” and that the whole state of Israel is 
“founded on a lie.” 

When a young graduate student named Michael Klein, now dean of 
the Jerusalem campus of Hebrew Union College, wrote to Monsignor 
Patrick Skehan of Catholic University for permission to see a Targum 
fragment from Qumran that Klein mistakenly thought was assigned 
to Skehan, Skehan replied that the fragment was in fact assigned to 
Milik (who does not answer correspondence), so Klein never got to 
see the fragment. But in his reply to Klein, Skehan stated as follows: 

Since I note that your letter included a carbon copy to Dr. Magen Broshi, I 
feel obliged to tell you in addition, that I should not under any 
circumstance grant through any Israeli functionary, any permission to 
dispense, for any purpose, or to any extent, of anything whatsoever that is 
lawfully housed in the Palestine Archaeological Museum. 

This attitude was shared by some other members of the editing team. 

For about fifteen years after the scrolls in the Rockefeller Museum (as 
the Palestine Archaeological Museum is now called) fell into Israeli 
hands, no Jew worked on the texts. Finally, in the mid-1980s, John 
Strugnell broke the barrier and enlisted the aid of Israeli scholar 
Elisha Qimron to work with him on the important unpublished text 
known as MMT. In another project, Strugnell worked with Devorah 
Dimant of Haifa University. Emanuel Tov of Hebrew University was 
assigned a biblical scroll to publish. When, under Strugnell’s tenure as 
chief editor, J. T. Milik was persuaded to release some of his hoard of 
unpublished texts, assignments from Milik’s hoard were given to 


Joseph Baumgarten of Baltimore Hebrew University and Jonas 
Greenfield of Hebrew University. Strugnell also brought in talmudic 
scholar Jacob Sussman to interpret Jewish religious laws (halakhah) 
contained in MMT, and Shemaryahu Talmon to interpret the calendar 
provisions in the same text. The “No Jews Allowed” sign was 
effectively removed from the Dead Sea Scroll publication project, 
largely as a result of assignments made by John Strugnell. 

Everyone was relieved that anti-Semitism was now no longer even a 
potential issue. Then came the Strugnell interview. 

The reaction in the United States to the Strugnell interview has been 
very different from the reaction in Israel. The initial reaction in the 
United States was a kind of denial: “This is not the John Strugnell I 
knew.” Close associates lined up to proclaim that in ten or twenty or 
thirty years they had never heard Strugnell talk like this. “After all, 
didn’t he bring Jewish scholars into the project?” 

Everything Strugnell said in the interview was the result of his 
mental condition, I was repeatedly told. In the words of a graduate 
student quoted in the Harvard Crimson, “I’m sure it’s his illness that’s 

There is no question that John Strugnell is a very sick man, 
physically and mentally. Now it can be talked about. For one thing, it 
is inextricably involved in the question of his anti-Semitism. For 
another, it has already been in the newspapers, so we cannot be 
considered guilty of impropriety. Perhaps most importantly, nothing 
we discuss can erase — or add to — the humiliation of, and 
embarrassment to, John Strugnell or the painful personal tragedy that 
this reflects. 

For years Strugnell has been an alcoholic, a disease that has seriously 
affected his ability to do his work. Everyone knew about this. But no 
one mentioned it publicly. There was a kind of gentlemen’s 
agreement, somewhat like the press used to observe with respect to 
the drinking habits of members of Congress. The closest reference in 
print to Strugnell’s alcoholism was in a Boston Herald article in 1989 
that described his “dilapidated side room of a Jerusalem convent” as 
“adorned with American and Israeli beer bottles . . . Empty cardboard 
beer cases are promptly converted into file cabinets still bearing 
names like Budweiser and Maccabi, a local beer.” 


Despite the fact that his drinking was seriously impeding his work, 
no effort was made to remove Strugnell from his position either by 
his fellow team members or by the Israeli Antiquities Authority. In 
addition, John Strugnell is said by his colleagues to be a manic- 
depressive. These facts obviously complicate the question of whether 
John Strugnell is an anti-Semite. 

As noted, one theory is that the views he expressed in his interview 
are solely the product of his disturbed mind. According to this 
theory, the interview does not reflect what the man actually thinks: 
He simply made it up as a result of his mental condition. 

The opposing theory is that his mental condition simply loosened his 
tongue. In vino veritas, so to speak. Perhaps he expressed himself 
more extremely than he would otherwise have done, but his core 
attitudes and beliefs are accurately reflected in the interview, 
according to this view. 

The first theory is espoused by many of his students and colleagues. 
They are naturally and understandably pained at the public 
humiliation and disgrace that has fallen on their mentor and friend. 
In a letter signed by his colleagues and students, they suggest this 
possibility, without necessarily embracing it (“We cannot know how 
much his illness influenced what he said”). 

If we could conclude that Strugnell’s statements were simply the 
product of a disturbed mind and that they had no relation to his real 
attitudes toward Jews and Judaism, we could avoid the questions 
that arise when an anti-Semite is discovered holding the position of 
chief editor of the Dead Sea Scrolls. To decide whether his anti- 
Semitic statements in the interview were due to the effects of his 
present mental illness, we can look at Strugnell’s views prior to this 
interview. Some of this evidence has come out in press reports only 
since the publication of the interview: The fact is John Strugnell was 
and is an anti-Semite and rabidly anti-Israel. 

According to Magen Broshi, curator of Jerusalem’s Shrine of the 
Book, where most of the original intact Dead Sea Scrolls are housed, 
“We’ve known for twenty years that he [Strugnell] is an anti-Semite” 
(quoted in a British newspaper, The Independent, December 14, 
1990). In a Jerusalem Report article, Broshi is quoted as referring to 
Strugnell’s “rabid anti-Semitism.” 


Broshi was not the only one who knew of Strugnell’s anti-Semitism. 
According to the Boston Jewish Advocate (January 10, 1991), “The 
anti- Judaic attitudes of [Strugnell] were known for a long time by 
many of his colleagues.” Nahum Sarna, emeritus professor of biblical 
studies at Brandeis University, is quoted as saying, “Strugnell was 
known by several people to be anti-Semitic from the first days he 
came to Harvard. He did not hide his anti-Semitic views. Some of his 
students say they never heard an anti-Semitic remark from him, but 
some faculty members did.” 

The same article quotes Cyrus Gordon, emeritus professor at both 
Brandeis and New York University: “His [Strugnell’s] habits and 
remarks had gotten around and were well known. But it’s like having 
a bad boy — he’s still your child and you don’t like to talk about it to 
colleagues, friends, and neighbors.” 

According to Time magazine (European and Mid-East edition, 
December 24, 1990), “Scholars have long gossiped about Strugnell’s 
offensive ideas.” On one occasion several years ago, reported Time, 
“Strugnell toasted Austrian President Kurt Waldheim, whose Nazi 
unit committed atrocities during World War II, as the greatest man of 
the half-century.” 

Newsweek reported his “adamant dislike for the state of Israel.” 
While criticism of Israel is not necessarily anti-Semitism, at a certain 
point the line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism becomes 
blurred. Strugnell’s anti-Zionism approached that line if it did not 
cross it. 

According to an article in the Baltimore Sun (December 23, 1990), 
“Several [students and colleagues] say he [Strugnell] demonstrated an 
upper-class British hauteur to Jews and Judaism,” adding that to 
individual Jews he was often “warm, generous and supportive.” 

One former student who is Jewish (incidentally, a signatory to the 
letter) is quoted as saying, “He has said derogatory things to me 
before, and I called him on it. He would laugh and back down.” 
According to a Jewish Telegraphic Agency report, a senior member 
of the editing team, Eugene Ulrich, “acknowledged that Strugnell had 
long had a reputation for making inappropriate remarks.” Ulrich 
referred to them as “slurs.” 

A scholar who was being interviewed for a faculty position recalls 


Strugnell’s making anti-Semitic remarks to him. Another former 
student who is Jewish told me that he worked closely with Strugnell 
on theological matters and knew him to be a very “conservative” 
Christian theologian who believes in a “supersessionist” theology 
according to which Christianity has “superseded” Judaism as the 
“true Israel.” Jews are therefore the false Israel. Judaism is therefore 
no longer valid; the covenant recorded in the Old Testament has been 
broken. As quoted in The Jerusalem Report (December 20, 1990) in a 
later discussion after he had returned to the United States, Strugnell 
stated, “It’s the old Christian response to the Jewish problem.” 

As noted above, the colleagues and students who signed the letter of 
support carefully refrain from considering the indelicate question of 
whether John Strugnell is an anti-Semite. Several of the signatories 
admitted to me that they don’t really know whether John Strugnell is 
anti-Semitic. Moreover, they concede that it is quite possible for a 
person to be an excellent scholar — as John Strugnell surely is — to 
produce unbiased work and to teach in an unbiased manner — and yet 
still be an anti-Semite. 

The point they make in their letter is simply that in his professional 
work, his anti-Semitism, if he is anti-Semitic, did not have any 
effect. We have no evidence that his anti-Semitism did affect his 
work, although some scholars contend that it did. We are in no 
position to judge this matter. His students and colleagues may well be 

But, unlike them, we must go further. Simply because his anti- 
Semitism may not have affected his work, we cannot finesse the 
question of whether he is anti-Semitic. We must also explore the 
nature of his anti-Semitism; we must also ask whether an anti-Semite 
should be working on these Jewish religious treasures even if he is 
otherwise competent to do so. 

On the evidence already presented, we conclude that John Strugnell 
is an anti-Semite. That needs to be said. That does not mean we 
should go looking for anti-Semitism under every green leaf. We are 
not advocating an academic witch-hunt. But when it manifests itself 
— in whatever unfortunate way — we should not avert our eyes. As 
we should not go searching for it, we should not avoid the issue 
when it arises. That there are dangers on either side must be 


It is especially important that we look at the nature of John 
Strugnell’s anti-Semitism because it comes not from a street fighter 
like Louis Farrakhan, but from an erudite professor of Christian 
origins at Harvard Divinity School. His interview was laced with 
crude vitriol: “a horrible religion,” “originally racist,” “it never 
should have survived” — this, less than fifty years since the ovens of 
Auschwitz were put out (some might fear, banked). He even referred 
to Hitler’s inability to “move” four million Jews (the customary 
estimate of Jews killed in the Holocaust is, of course, six million, a 
figure disputed by those who deny the Holocaust). It is easy to 
condemn this form of anti-Semitism — as, of course, everyone has 

Certainly but for his illness, Strugnell would not have expressed 
himself in these crude terms publicly. But beneath this name-calling 
lies a far more sophisticated, intellectual, carefully developed form of 
anti-Jewish polemic. It is the repudiated doctrine of a past age. It is 
the view that Judaism is not a valid religion, the view that 
Christianity is the true Israel and the Jews the false Israel, the view 
that the Jews are “stubborn” because they have not accepted Christ, 
the view that the New Testament has invalidated the covenant 
reflected in the Old Testament, the view that Christianity has 
“superseded” Judaism and that Judaism should disappear. This 
position is summed up in academic jargon by the term 
supersessionism. This is the position that underlies Strugnell’s name- 
calling. This is the position, we are told by one of his former students 
who knows him well, that John Strugnell espouses — espoused long 
before his illness affected his mind. One doesn’t come up with a 
theory like this because one is mentally ill. This well-developed 
theory has long been part of John Strugnell’s philosophy of 
Christianity. Although the British-born Strugnell is a converted 
Roman Catholic, supersessionism is no part of the Church’s teaching 

What follows from this? First, what does not follow: We certainly do 
not deny John Strugnell or any other anti-Semite the right to express 
his or her views. Anti-Semites are free to state their views in as 
crudely, or in as sophisticated, a way as they like. But we — Christian 
and Jew alike — are free and morally obliged to condemn it when it 
surfaces. This is as true when the anti-Semite is a great scholar and 
teacher as it is when the anti-Semite is a popular pop singer. 

In their carefully crafted letter, Strugnell’s students and colleagues not 


only avoid the question of whether their teacher and friend is an 
anti-Semite, they also affirm that his anti-Semitism, if he is indeed 
anti-Semitic, did not affect his work: “We have never read or heard 
any evidence of anti- Judaism in his scholarship or teaching” (italics 
supplied). The italicized qualification is important. Outside his 
scholarship and teaching, the man has expressed anti-Semitic views, 
as some of the signatories recognize, yet they do not say this in their 

Assuming that his anti-Semitic views do not affect his scholarship, is 
he nevertheless unfit, by virtue of his personal anti-Semitism, to 
head the scroll publication team and to be honored by being given 
exclusive control of these Jewish cultural treasures? John Strugnell is 
— and should be — as free as any other scholar to study and interpret 
the Dead Sea Scrolls. But a known anti-Semite who has espoused his 
views publicly should not be on a publication team that has 
exclusive control of unpublished Jewish religious texts. 

Our position was stated in an editorial that accompanied the 
Strugnell interview: 

“It is clear that Strugnell cannot be permitted to function any longer 
as chief editor of the Dead Sea Scrolls. When a person with John 
StrugnelTs views handles these documents, he can only stain them. 
We say this despite his brilliance and competence as a scholar.” 

So far, the team of editors has avoided all these questions. 

In the official letter from the editing team announcing Strugnell’s 
removal, the team (F. M. Cross, J. T. Milik, Emile Puech, Emanuel 
Tov, and Eugene Ulrich) cited only “his health and various 
complications,” adding, “We will remain grateful to Professor 
Strugnell for his many years of devoted service and his wide-ranging 
and unique positive contributions.” No mention of the anti-Semitic 
interview. As The New York Times reported: “In announcing the 
decision [to remove Strugnell] on Monday, they gave only his health 
and recent hospitalization as the reason for the action.” Yet, as came 
out in personal interviews with the various actors in this charade, 
Strugnell’s anti-Semitic statements, in the words of The New York 
Times, concededly “forced the issue.” 

If Strugnell’s health had been the real reason for sacking him, there 
would have been no need for such undue haste. Indeed, it would be 


unseemly to remove him just when he entered the hospital. 
Shouldn’t he have been given some time to recover? (Co-chief editor 
Tov, who would be replacing Strugnell, was away on a sabbatical in 
Holland and would not be back in Jerusalem until August 1991 
anyway.) The fact that Strugnell was in a hospital meant that he 
would now face his problems. He would be “dried out” and his 
mental problem could likely be controlled by drugs. If it was “only” 
his health that was a concern, as the Times said, why did they not at 
least wait to see the effect of his stay in the hospital? 

Perhaps sensing that the “health” explanation did not really hold 
water and not wanting to face the anti-Semitism issue, some team 
members put forward another reason for removing Strugnell — a 
reason that is as unfair as it is untrue: He didn’t push the team hard 
enough to get the scrolls published. According to an Associated Press 
story, one editing team member called Strugnell ineffective as chief 
editor “because he has not pushed researchers to work faster.” 
Ironically, as the butt of this charge, Strugnell was being made a 
scapegoat. The tardy scholars themselves sacked him — supposedly 
for not pushing them hard enough to complete their work. In fact, it 
was Strugnell who played the major role in developing a “Suggested 
Timetable” for publication and who persuaded Milik to divest 
himself of nearly a third of his hoard and to assign it to other 
scholars. The same scholars who fired Strugnell, supposedly for not 
pressing hard enough, were the very people who defended his 
policies regarding publication — and continue to defend them — 
provided only that they, rather than Strugnell, are at the helm. Prior 
to Strugnell’s anti-Semitic interview, no one on the team of editors 
criticized Strugnell’s policies or his failure to pressure others to 
complete their work. 

The team obviously fired Strugnell — or recommended to the Israel 
Antiquities Authority that he be fired (it is not clear where this 
authority lies) — because of the anti-Semitic interview, but they gave 
other reasons — his health and his inefficiency — that avoided all the 
thorny questions involved in the anti-Semitic issue. 

The reaction in Israel to the Strugnell interview is as puzzling as the 
reaction in the rest of the world is disturbing. 

Shortly after the Strugnell interview appeared in Ha-Aretz, I called 
Magen Broshi, curator of Israel’s Shrine of the Book and a member of 
the Israeli oversight committee, to get his reaction to the story. He 


seemed unconcerned. “Don’t waste your time on it,” he told me. 

I then called Hebrew University professor Shemaryahu Talmon, 
another member of the Israeli oversight committee. “We are not 
perturbed,” he said. 

Later, Broshi told the press that Strugnell’s anti-Semitism — which he 
said he knew about for twenty years — was “entirely irrelevant”! For 
Broshi, the only question was whether Strugnell was competent to do 
the job. This attitude was echoed by Amir Drori, director of the Israel 
Antiquities Authority, who told a Ha-Aretz reporter that “the only 
[!] consideration facing the Antiquities Authority [in deciding 
whether to remove Strugnell] is the quality of [Strugnell’s] work on 
the details of the scrolls.” (When the Antiquities Authority 
announced his removal, it was only because of “his physical and 
mental condition.”) 

I cannot explain or understand this attitude. I don’t know what to call 
it — timidity, diffidence, restraint? There is an old Yiddish proverb 
that goes something like this: “When someone spits on him, he says 
it’s raining.” Some have suggested that Israelis are so accustomed to 
bias against them that they simply expect it and learn to overlook it. 

As we have seen, the rest of the scholars who have a hand in the 
scroll-pot managed largely to avoid the question by attributing 
Strugnell’s anti-Semitic remarks to his mental illness. No doubt they 
were motivated by a desire to spare Strugnell from what they 
considered additional humiliation. To be hospitalized for a 
psychiatric condition, to be an alcoholic, to have these matters 
discussed publicly, to be removed as chief editor — all these represent 
a terrible personal tragedy that is inevitably painful to all concerned, 
especially to Strugnell himself. It was only natural that his students 
and colleagues wished to spare him, as one of the signatories to the 
letter told me, the additional burden of being branded an anti-Semite. 
He has already had to bear more pain than should be asked of anyone. 

In retrospect, however, the issue was too obvious, too insistent, too 
important to be avoided. The personal dimensions of the tragedy 
cannot be gainsaid. May John Strugnell recover fully and speedily. Let 
him be honored as a brilliant scholar, as a wonderful teacher, as a 
warm, generous, and caring mentor and colleague. But for his anti- 
Semitism, he must also bear the shame. 


* Of course, this restriction did not apply to scrolls that early on came 
into Israeli hands and were promptly published by Israeli and 
American scholars. The latest was Yigael Yadin, The Temple Scroll 
The Hidden Law of the Dead Sea Sect (London: Weidenfeld and 
Nicolson, 1985), p. 45. 





The obsessive secrecy with which the scroll editing team members 
have pursued their labors has spawned numerous conspiracy 
theories that the scrolls were being kept from public scrutiny 
because their contents would somehow undermine fundamental 
tenets of Christianity or Judaism. Fuel was added to the fire by the 
fact that the official editing team included no Jews until the late 
1980s and indeed for decades consisted mainly of Roman Catholic 

Both the team editors and their principal critics, such as the editor 
of Biblical Archaeology Review, denied that there was any 
conspiracy to suppress the scrolls or that there were any 
bombshells in the unpublished texts that would embarrass Judaism 
or Christianity. On the other hand, it was difficult effectively to 
refute the conspiracy theories while the texts remained 
inaccessible to all but the privileged few. 

The conspiracy theory flowered in 1991 in a book that charged 
the Vatican with attempting to suppress the scrolls and any 
interpretation of them that deviated from the party line. In this 
chapter the editor of Biblical Archaeology Review discusses the 
evidence and concludes that the charge is hogwash. More 
importantly, he explains why nothing that is likely to be found in 
the unpublished scrolls will undermine the faith of either Christians 
or Jews. Evolution didn’t do it. Neither did the archaeologists’ 
conclusion that there was no city at Jericho when Joshua was 


supposed to have conquered it. Nor did the fact that the author of 
the biblical flood story copied part of it from a Mesopotamian 


A book that will soon be available in the United States was recently 
published in England under the title The Dead Sea Scroll Deception by 

Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh. The book’s thesis is that the 
Vatican is suppressing the Dead Sea Scrolls because they will 
undermine vital Christian doctrine. 

The authors’ first bit of evidence is the unconscionable publication 
delays: Of over five hundred texts found in Qumran Cave 4 beginning 
in 1952, only approximately one hundred have been published after 
nearly forty years. (The three hundred texts from other caves have 
almost all been published.) Even more sinister is the fact that the 
small coterie of editors who control access to the four hundred 
unpublished texts from Cave 4 won’t let other scholars see their 
secret hoard. 

The team of Cave 4 editors are largely Catholic clerics, centered at the 
Dominican-sponsored Ecole Biblique et Archeologique Franchise in 
what was until 1967 Jordanian-controlled East Jerusalem. The 
editorial team was assembled beginning in 1953 by Pere Roland de 
Vaux, who, according to Baigent and Leigh, exercised “virtually 
supreme authority” over the scrolls until his death in 1971. The team 
de Vaux assembled included Monsignor Patrick Skehan from the 
United States; Abbe Jean Starcky from France; Father Jozef Milik, a 
Polish priest who has since left the priesthood and resettled in 
France; a German scholar who was soon replaced by another French 
priest, Father Maurice Baillet; and John Strugnell, who subsequently 
converted to Catholicism. The sole Protestant on the team was Frank 
Cross, then of McCormick Theological Seminary and now at Harvard. 
Rounding out the team was an Englishman and an agnostic, John 
Allegro. Naturally no Jews were included on the team. 

When de Vaux died in 1971, he was replaced as editor in chief by 
Father Pierre Benoit, another Dominican priest from the Ecole 
Biblique. When Benoit died in 1987, he was succeeded by the now- 
Catholic John Strugnell, who served until 1991 when he was 
dismissed by his colleagues following the publication of some rabidly 


anti-Semitic remarks he made to an Israeli journalist. Upon Starcky’s 
death, his hoard was bequeathed to Father Emile Puech, also of the 
Ecole Biblique. When Skehan died, his hoard was bequeathed to 
Eugene Ulrich of Notre Dame University. 

37. Father Jean Starcky conducting mass in the 1950s at the excavation of the 

Qumran settlement. 

Sabine Weiss/RAPHO 



38. The scroll team relaxes. Pere de Vaux is fifth from left in white cassock. 
Courtesy Mrs. John Allegro 

39. J. T. Milik in the 1950s. 

Courtesy Mrs. John Allegro 

Baigent and Leigh do not stop here, however. They explore at some 
length where final authority actually lies: “To whom, ultimately, 
were the international team accountable? In theory they should have 
been accountable to their peers, to other scholars. ... In reality, the 


international team seemed to recognize no accountability whatever, 
except to the Ecole Biblique. And to whom was the Ecole Biblique 

From their own detailed investigation Baigent and Leigh uncovered 
what they describe as “a major revelation, not just to us, but to other 
independent researchers in the field as well.” The Ecole Biblique had 
direct lines to the Pope himself. 

The Ecole Biblique has from its earliest days been “close(ly) 
affiliat [ed] ” with the Pontifical Biblical Commission. The authors 
describe the Ecole Biblique as “an adjunct of the [Pontifical Biblical] 
Commission’s propaganda machine — an instrument for promulgating 
Catholic doctrine under the guise of historical and archaeological 
research.” De Vaux himself was made a consultant to the 
commission: on his death Benoit was made a consultant to the 
commission. On Benoit’s death, his successor as head of the Ecole 
Biblique was made a consultant to the commission. 

The head of the commission is Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Ratzinger 
is also head of another Catholic institution, the Congregation for the 
Doctrine of the Faith. The Congregation has what the authors call a 
“long-established pedigree”: “In 1542, it had become known officially 
as the Holy Office. Prior to that it was called the Holy Inquisition.” 

While Ratzinger is the executive head of the congregation, the 
official head is always the reigning pope. Today Ratzinger, as 
executive head, is called its secretary; “in earlier times [the executive 
head] was known as the Grand Inquisitor.” 

The authors continue: “Of all the departments of the Curia, that of 
the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is the most powerful. 
Ratzinger is perhaps the closest to the Pope of all the Curia 

“Through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Ratzinger’s 
attitudes determine the attitudes of the Pontifical Biblical 
Commission, of which he is also head, and filter down from there 
into the Ecole Biblique.” Ratzinger is described as “a deeply 
pessimistic man” who feels that “only the suppression of all dissent 
can assure [the Church’s] survival as a unified faith. He regards those 
who do not share his pessimism as ‘blind or deluded.’” “The 
Church’s high-level involvement in Dead Sea Scrolls scholarship,” as 


thus demonstrated, the authors conclude, “must inevitably foster a 
grave element of suspicion.” 

This suspicion is buttressed by attitudes expressed by members of 
the Dead Sea Scroll editorial team like Monsignor Skehan, who is 
quoted as expressing the view that “ultimately, the biblical scholar’s 
work should be guided and determined by Church doctrine and [now 
quoting Skehan] ‘be subject always to the sovereign right of Holy 
Mother Church to witness definitively what is in fact concordant 
with the teaching she has received from Christ.’” 

“What if something comes to light which can’t be made thus to 
conform?” the authors ask. “From Father Skehan’s statements, the 
answer to that question would seem clear. Anything that can’t be 
subordinated or accommodated to existing Church doctrine must, of 
necessity, be suppressed.” 

Father Skehan’s position, we are told, “was effectively echoed by 
Pope Pius XII himself, who maintained ‘that the biblical exegete has 
a function and a responsibility to perform in matters of importance 
to the church.’” 

With this background, it is easy to understand why “De Vaux wanted, 
so far as it was possible, to avoid embarrassing the Christian 
establishment,” the authors state. “Some of the Qumran material was 
clearly deemed capable of doing precisely that.” In order to avoid this 
“embarrassment,” the de Vaux-led team devised and “imposed ... a 
rigid orthodoxy of interpretation” of the scrolls. 

“Any deviation [from this interpretation] was tantamount to heresy . 
. . [Any scholar] who presumed to challenge [the team’s 
interpretation] did so at severe risk to his credibility . . . This 
orthodoxy of interpretation [has grown] progressively more 
dogmatic over the years.” 

The authors imply that de Vaux and his colleagues might even 
destroy — have destroyed — some incriminating documents. “What 
exactly would the Ecole Biblique do if, among the unpublished or 
perhaps as yet undiscovered Qumran material, something inimical to 
Church doctrine turned up?” And again: “Even if the Israeli 
government clamped down and ordered the immediate release of all 
Qumran material, how could we be sure that items potentially 
compromising to the Church would ever see the light of day?” 


Straying scholars could be kept in line by means less drastic, 
however, than destroying documents. Take the case of John Allegro, 
not only the only agnostic on the team but the only member to 
publish all the scrolls assigned to him. Strugnell then wrote “a long 
[113-page] and hostile critique” which Robert Eisenman, chair of the 
Religious Studies Department at California State University in Long 
Beach, has called a “hatchet-job.” Early on, Allegro “grew exasperated 
with [the team’s] strained attempt to distance Christianity from the 
scrolls and the Qumran community” and was soon estranged from the 
rest of the team, especially after their efforts to prevent his airing 
views they objected to. Other critics of the team’s views were 
likewise silenced. 

The chief tenet of the orthodox interpretation of the scroll relates to 
their date. “The key factor in determining the significance of the 
scrolls, and their relation, or lack of it, to Christianity, consisted, of 
course, in their dating.” Therefore, in the “consensus view,” as the 
team’s views are called, “the Qumran texts were seen as dating from 
long prior to the Christian era.” Anything that “would upset the ‘safe’ 
dating and chronology which the international team had established 
for the entire corpus of scrolls” was squelched. Once “set safely back 
in pre-Christian times, [the scrolls became] disarmed of any possible 
challenge to New Testament teaching and tradition.” In this way the 
team “effectively defused the Dead Sea Scrolls of whatever explosive 
potential they might have.” “When expediency and the stability of 
Christian theology so dictated, contrary evidence was ‘ignored.’” 

Another tenet of orthodox interpretation was that “the scrolls and 
their authors had to be kept as dissociated as possible from ‘early 
Christianity’ — as depicted in the New Testament.” Thus, in the 
orthodox consensus, “The beliefs of the Qumran community were 
presented as entirely different from Christianity.” 

To anyone unfamiliar with the Byzantine complexity of the high- 
stakes struggle for control of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Baigent and Leigh 
make an appealing — perhaps even convincing — case that the Vatican 
— or at least Catholic clerics — are suppressing the scrolls for doctrinal 
reasons. In fact, however, the charge is hogwash. 

I confess it seems ungracious of me to say so because Baigent and 
Leigh make some highly flattering remarks about Biblical 
Archaeology Review’s six-year campaign to obtain release of the still- 
secret scrolls. The authors call us “influential”; they quote us at 


length approvingly; they say our “contribution has been immense.” 
But, still, their central thesis is so badly flawed as to be ludicrous. 

Let us begin with a general statement: Catholic scholars are today in 


the forefront of modern critical biblical scholarship. The Catholic 
Biblical Quarterly is among the most highly respected journals of 
biblical scholarship in the world. It ranks right up there with the 
Journal of Biblical Literature, published by the Society of Biblical 
Literature. Neither Protestants nor Jews have a journal devoted to 
biblical studies comparable to CBQ. The Revue Biblique, published by 
the Ecole Biblique, is also a highly respected journal that publishes 
articles by Jewish and Protestant, as well as Catholic, scholars. 

40. John Alkgro in the 1950s. 

Courtesy Mrs. John Allegro 

This is not to say that Catholic scholars are never biased. They 
sometimes are — and in subtle ways. But — let’s confess it — so are we 
all, including agnostics and nonbelievers. All we can do is 
conscientiously become aware of our predilections, maintaining 


continual vigilance to prevent their affecting our scholarship. Each 
case of alleged bias must be decided on its own merits. There is today 
simply no basis for a wholesale condemnation of Catholic biblical 
scholarship as biased. 

Let’s look at a few more specific facts. As Baigent and Leigh recount, 
a number of scholars have contested the consensus view. Among 
these scholars is Robert North, whose position goes to the very heart 
of the consensus view by questioning the team’s dating of the scrolls. 
The consensus, North says, is “disquieting ... It is important to 
emphasize the frailty of the evidences.” North calls attention to four 
cases in which de Vaux had been forced to retract his dating. In 
Baigent and Leigh’s words, “North also found it distressing that, even 
on so crucial a matter, specialists ‘independently of de Vaux’s 
influence’ were not asked to contribute to their conclusion.” 

Baigent and Leigh recognize, however, that North is in fact a Jesuit 
priest. But it’s worse than that. North is not simply a Catholic priest 
somewhere out in the boonies who failed to get the word from on 
high. North is the editor of the Elenchus ofBiblica, an annual index of 
all articles published the previous year that in any way relate to the 
Bible, and a professor of archaeology at the Pontifical Biblical 
Institute. As such, he works in the shadow of the Vatican itself. If 
anyone should have gotten the word — if there was a word to be 
gotten — it should be North. 

Or take the case of Father Joseph Fitzmyer, a distinguished emeritus 
professor at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., who 
has been among the most vocal critics of the team for failing to 

publish their texts, who has unsuccessfully pleaded with Milik to 
release some of the latter’s texts so that Fitzmyer himself could 

publish them — how come Joe Fitzmyer never got the word? 

But that is by no means the weakest element of the authors’ position. 
Their entire structure is based on the foolish supposition that 
independent scholars in this day and age can be cowed into 
suppressing their views. Baigent and Leigh cite what happened to 
John Allegro; his publication of the texts assigned to him was 
savagely reviewed by Strugnell, who spent over one hundred pages 
correcting Allegro’s errors. But this could only be done because 
Allegro’s reading of the text was so bad; it was not done because 
Allegro’s interpretations were contrary to the team’s. No doubt 


Strugnell took a certain glee in correcting Allegro’s errors, but no one 
I know has provided a substantive defense of Allegro’s work as 
against Strugnell’s criticisms. Fitzmyer, himself an outsider, has said 
that Allegro’s work must be used only with “extreme caution.” 
Moreover, as Baigent and Leigh recognize, Allegro went on to self- 
destruct by publishing a book entitled The Sacred Mushroom and the 

Cross 5 in which he contended that Jesus had never existed in 
historical reality, but was only an image evoked in the psyche under 
the influence of a hallucinating drug, psilocybin, the active ingredient 
in hallucinogenic mushrooms. Fourteen prominent British scholars 
repudiated the book in a letter to the London Times. The publisher 
apologized for issuing the book. 

Allegro’s views failed to gain acceptance, but he was not cowed or 
suppressed. Many other scholars have dissented from the reigning 
team’s views. Barbara Thiering of the University of Sydney in 
Australia contends that the Teacher of Righteousness, who figures 
prominently in Qumran texts, is John the Baptist and Jesus is the 
Wicked Priest. J. L. Teicher of Cambridge University contends that 
Paul is the Wicked Priest. Otto Betz of the University of Tubingen 
suggests that John the Baptist lived at Qumran. Norman Golb of the 
University of Chicago argues that the Qumran library really came 
from Jerusalem and represents the views of mainline Judaism. 
Lawrence Schiffman of New York University contends that the 
underlying doctrines of the Qumran sect are not Essenic, but 

Jose O’Callaghan contends that fragments of the Gospel of Mark, as 
well as Acts and Paul’s letter to the Romans, have been found among 
the texts recovered from one of the Dead Sea Scroll caves. Who is this 
independent voice challenging the authority of the Vatican’s 
representatives by suggesting that such late Christian documents 
have been found at Qumran? He is a Spanish Jesuit! These Catholics 
— like North, Fitzmyer, and O’Callaghan — ought to get their act 
together if they’re going to suppress unorthodox ideas, especially 
ideas that relate the Qumran documents to the New Testament. To 
add insult to injury, O’Callaghan publishes his ideas in Catholic 
journals like Biblica and Civita cattolica. 

No one can deny all these dissenting scholars a voice. They may be 
denied a forum at conclaves that the editorial team controls. But their 
views are made widely known in alternative publications. Whether 


their arguments will prevail will be determined by their acceptance 
or rejection by their peers, not by the coercive efforts of the editorial 

Indeed Baigent and Leigh themselves adopt the views of an 
independent scholar who vigorously disagrees with the views of the 
editorial team, Robert Eisenman. According to Eisenman — and 
Baigent and Leigh — the Qumran leader known as the Teacher of 
Righteousness is actually James the Righteous, who is referred to in 
the New Testament as the brother of Jesus. According to Eisenman, 
James was the leader of the Zealots, a militant Jewish sect that was 
in the forefront of the First Jewish Revolt against Rome (66-70 A.D.) 
that effectively ended with the burning of Jerusalem and the 
destruction of the Temple. Eisenman contends that the Qumran 
community were Zealots, not Essenes. As such, they were heirs to a 
long line of Jewish Zadokites — from Ezra, to Judas Maccabeus, to 
John the Baptist, to Jesus, and finally to Jesus’ brother James. Paul, 
in this scenario, was James’ archopponent. It was Paul who turned 
Jesus into a God. According to Eisenman, Paul is “the Liar” of the 
Qumran texts, the adversary of the Teacher of Righteousness. Paul, 
according to Eisenman, spent three years at Qumran. The second 
adversary of the Teacher of Righteousness, the Wicked Priest is, 
according to this theory, Ananas, the high priest in Jerusalem. 
Ananas contrived to have James put to death, an event recorded in 
the New Testament where, again according to Eisenman, Stephen has 
been substituted for James. At this point, according to Eisenman, 
Judea rose in revolt. This was the beginning of the First Jewish 
Revolt against Rome. The Romans dispatched an expeditionary force 
under Vespasian and Jerusalem was destroyed. Paul prevailed by 
creating Christianity. The story of James (and the real, the militant 
Jesus) was suppressed, until resurrected in Eisenman’s interpretation 
of the Dead Sea Scrolls. 

If Pere de Vaux is the Wicked Priest according to the gospel of 
Baigent and Leigh, Robert Eisenman is the Teacher of Righteousness. 
Aware that my summary of Eisenman’s view is grossly inadequate, I 
may well be cast in the role of the Liar. 

Truth to tell, no short summary of Eisenman’s views would be 
adequate. (I have omitted Eisenman’s suggestion that Paul may 
actually have been a secret Roman agent.) As Baigent and Leigh 
themselves state toward the end of a 266-page book in large part 
devoted to Eisenman’s ideas, “In our own pages, it would be 


impossible to do adequate justice to the weight of evidence Eisenman 
amasses.” (A few pages later, on the other hand, they say, 
“Eisenman’s research has revealed the underlying simplicity of what 
had previously seemed a dauntingly complicated situation.”) 

Eisenman’s views may yet prevail (although Baigent and Leigh are 
badly mistaken when they state that “an ever-increasing phalanx of 
supporters is gathering around Robert Eisenman, and his cause is 
being espoused by more and more scholars of influence and 
prominence.” I do not know of a single scholar who has expressed 
agreement in print with Eisenman’s scenario.) 

But whether Eisenman’s views will ultimately prevail is not the 
point. What is important is that they are free to make their way in 
the market-place of ideas. They have been presented to the public 
and to his fellow scholars. The first book in which he makes his case 
(Maccabees, Zadokites, Christians and Qumran) was published by the 
prestigious scholarly publishing house of E. J. Brill of Leiden in 
1983. The second of his books (James the Just in the Habakkuk 
Pesher) was published in 1985 by — now hold on to your seats, as my 
grandfather used to say — by one of the Vatican’s own presses, 
Tipographia Gregorianal (It was later revised and brought out by 
Brill.) Like Father North, Father Fitzmyer, and Father O’Callaghan, 
the Vatican press apparently failed to get the word as to what was 
doctrinally kosher and what was not. Otherwise, what was a Vatican 
press doing publishing Eisenman? 

In short, in this day and age, it is difficult to suppress ideas. 
Moreover, the team certainly chose a strange tenet to enforce 
doctrinal purity — an early dating for the scrolls. The team dates the 
scrolls between about 250 B.C. and 68 A.D. when, according to de 
Vaux’s interpretation of the archaeological evidence, the Qumran 
settlement was destroyed by the Roman forces. This early date, 
according to the accusation against the team editors, distances the 
scrolls from Christianity. Really? It coincides with Jesus’s life on this 
earth. If, for example, a virgin birth was attested in a Qumran text 
dating from the first or second century B.C. instead of the first or 
second century A.D., would this really matter much in terms of its 
destructive potential for Christian doctrine? 

This leads us to an even more deeply flawed element in Baigent and 
Leigh’s contention. They assume that something in these arcane 
ancient scrolls could seriously undermine Christian doctrine or faith. 


It is hard to imagine what that would be. And Baigent and Leigh do 
not even hint at its content. Suppose a text recounted a virgin birth 
that prefigured the virgin birth of Jesus. So what? We already know 
that virgin birth stories were in the air at the time. Both Judaism and 
Christianity have survived the discovery of evolution, as well as the 
discovery of a Mesopotamian flood story that was used by the 
biblical writer when he composed the story about Noah. Nor has 
Jewish or Christian faith been undermined by the fact that 
archaeologists tell us there was no city at Jericho when Joshua was 
supposed to have marched around it seven times before the walls 
came tumbling down. 

Allegro once wrote Strugnell: “By the time I’ve finished there won’t 
be any Church left for you to join.” Clearly, Allegro underestimated 
the strength of the Church’s theological foundations. And so have 
Baigent and Leigh. 

The supreme irony, however, is that the very threat that Baigent and 
Leigh postulate that the Church fears has in fact already occurred — 
and without the slightest shake of or shock to the Church’s 
foundation. Moreover, it has occurred with a strong assist from 
Catholic scholars. Baigent and Leigh suggest that the scrolls might 
contain “something compromising, something challenging, possibly 
[something that] even refutes, established traditions.” They picture 
de Vaux and his colleagues as fearful that something in the scrolls 
“might just conceivably demolish the entire edifice of Christian 
teaching and belief.” This is because, according to our authors, “It 
had hitherto been believed that Jesus’ teachings were unique.” 

Well, yes and no. Modern scholarship has emphasized the 
connections of Jesus’ teaching with other social and ideological 
movements of the time. On the other hand, the particular 
combination of ideas was and is unique. 

All scholars are agreed that the Qumran documents are highly 
significant to our understanding of early Christianity. These 
documents have added a new dimension to our understanding of 
Christian origins: Dozens of books and hundreds of articles have been 
written about the relationship of the Qumran texts to the New 
Testament. One of the principal conclusions of all this research is 
that early Christian doctrine and belief systems were not unique. In 
Chapter 14 James VanderKam draws two principal conclusions from 
decades of studying the effect of the Qumran texts on our 


understanding of early Christianity: “(1) the early Church grew upon 
Jewish soil to a far greater extent than previously supposed; and (2) 
a larger number of the early Church’s beliefs and practices than 
previously suspected were not unique to it.” 

There has been no resistance, either generally or in Catholic circles, 
to these conclusions or to the publication of the evidence for it. Yet 
this is supposed to be the destructive conclusion the Vatican 
conspiracy is designed to prevent — or at least to prevent reaching the 
light of day. 

41. John StrugneE in the 1950s. 


Courtesy Mrs. John Allegro 

Baigent and Leigh cite a passage from a still-unpublished Qumran 
text that refers to someone who will be called “Son of the Most High” 
and “Son of God,” echoing names that in Luke 1:32-35 are attributed 
to Jesus. This is “an extraordinary discovery,” they say. We agree. 
But we are happy to reveal that this material was provided to Biblical 
Archaeology Review by a prominent Catholic scholar — and the 
doctrinal supports of the Church have not fallen as a result of its 

Even more recently, an article has appeared revealing that a Qumran 
text contained beatitudes that in many respects prefigured the 
beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount. The author? Father Emile 

Puech of the Ecole Biblique. 

Baigent and Leigh accuse the team of editors of “painstakingly 
conceal[ing]” links between Qumran texts and New Testament events. 
On the contrary, the implications of the Qumran texts for New 
Testament studies have been widely and openly debated with the 
result that concepts and doctrines once regarded as uniquely 
Christian are no longer so understood. 

Yet there remains a puzzle: Why have the scholars who control the 
scrolls insisted on keeping so many of them secret? The answer, I am 
afraid, is not nearly so dramatic as Baigent and Leigh would have us 
believe. The explanation, alas, is quite pedestrian. 

Originally, in my judgment, they kept their goodies secret because of 
what motivates all monopolists: power. They were exclusive 
members of what one outsider called a “charmed circle.” They 
controlled an entire discipline. It was they who were the experts. It 
was their names that would go down in history as authors of the first 
editions. It was they who could entice graduate students with an 
unpublished Dead Sea Scroll to edit as a doctoral dissertation. 

More recently, something else has been at work: sheer obstinacy. The 
scroll editors answer to no one. They are a law unto themselves. They 
deeply resent the pressure that has been brought on them by 
outsiders. And not simply by outside scholars, but by untutored 
nonscholars like the editor of Biblical Archaeology Review and the 
general press. The reaction of the editors has been to dig in their 
heels. In their own terms, they will not be pushed around. 


That this, rather than a Vatican-directed conspiracy, lies behind the 
refusal to grant open access to the unpublished scrolls is 
demonstrated by the fact that the Israelis who have recently asserted 
their control of the scrolls concur in the monopoly exercised by the 
scroll editors — provided the team is expanded, as it has been, to 
include Israelis. Surely the Israelis would not be a part of a Vatican- 
directed conspiracy. Yet prominent Israeli scholars are part of the 
consensus view. Baigent and Leigh do not explain how the Israelis 
were enticed to join a conspiracy whose purpose is to preserve the 
purity of Church doctrine. 

*See Chapter 20. 

*See Chapter 16. 

tSee Chapter 3. 

*See Chapter 15. 




Ben Zion Wacholder, The Dawn of Qumran (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union 
College Press, 1983). 

The New York Times, September 7, 1991. 

Edmund Wilson, The Scrolls from the Dead Sea (London: Collins, 1955). 



The Shrine of the Book and Its ScroUs (a pamphlet published by the 
Shrine of the Book Museum, Jerusalem), p. 5. 



As claimed by G. R. Driver, for example, in his erratic and arbitrary 
study, The Judean Scrolls (Oxford: Blackwell, 1965). 


See W. F. Albright, “A Biblical Fragment from the Maccabean Age: The 
Nash Papyrus,” Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 56 (1937), pp. 



See F. M. Cross, “The Development of Jewish Scripts,” in G. Ernest 
Wright, ed., The Bible and the Ancient Near East (New York: 
Doubleday , 1961), pp. 133-202. 



See Louis Ginzberg, “Eine unbekannte jiidische Sekte,” originally 
published in Monatsschrift fur die Geschichte und Wissenschaft des 
Judentums 55-58 [1911-1914], and later privately published as a 
book in 1922. Ginzberg expected to publish additional material, but 
when World War II came he forswore publishing in German. As a 
result, only with the appearance of the English edition, An Unknown 
Jewish Sect (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary, 1976) was his 
full study published. 

Megillat Ha-Miqdash, 3 vols. (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 
1977); The Temple Scroll, 3 vols. (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration 
Society, 1983); and the more popularly written The Temple Scroll, 
The Hidden Law of the Dead Sea Sect (New York: Random House, 
1985). See also Yigael Yadin, “The Temple Scroll — The Longest and 
Most Recently Discovered Dead Sea Scroll” and Jacob Milgrom’s 
review of The Temple Scroll, both in Biblical Archaeology Review, 
September/October 1984. See also Lawrence Schiffman, review of 
Yadin’s The Temple Scrolb The Hidden Law of the Dead Sea Sect, 
Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August 1985. 

J. T. Milik, The Books of Enoch, Aramaic Fragments from Qumran Cave 
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976). 

Maurice Baillet, Qumran grotte 4, III (4Q482-4Q520), Discoveries in 
the Judaean Desert VII (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982). 

Solomon Zeidin, The Zadokbte Fragments, Jewish Quarterly Review 
Monograph series (Philadelphia: Dropsie College, 1952). 

G. Bonani, M. Broshi, I. Carmi, S. Ivy, J. Strugnell, W. Wolfli, 
“Radiocarbon Dating of the Dead Sea Scrolls,” ‘Atiqot 20 (1991), pp. 


E. L. Sukenik, Megillot Genuzot, Seqirah Rishonah (Jerusalem: Mossad 
Bialik, 1948). 

7 . 

Frank M. Cross, The Ancient Library of Qumran and Modern Biblical 
Studies (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1958); Millar Burrows, The 
Dead Sea Scrolls (New York: Viking, 1956), and More Light on the 
Dead Sea Scrolls (London: Seeker and Warburg, 1958); and Andre 
Dupont-Sommer, Les ecrits esseniens decouverts pres de la Mer Morte 
(Paris: Payot, 1959). 

The site was excavated in 1953-1956. Preliminary reports appeared in 
Revue Biblique 61-63 (1954-1956). The survey volume was first 
published in French in 1961 and then revised as Roland de Vaux, 
Archaeology and the Dead Sea Scrolls (London: Oxford University 
Press, 1973). 

Under the sponsorship of the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern 
Studies. The conference volume was published under the tide 
Archaeology and History in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Lawrence H. 
Schiffman, ed., Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 
Supplement Series 8 and JSOT/ASOR Monographs 2 (Sheffield, UK: 
Sheffield Academic Press, 1990). Subsequent conferences were held at 
London and Manchester (England), Mogilany (Poland), Jerusalem 
(Israel), Groningen (Netherlands), again at Mogilany, and Madrid, all 
of which have generated volumes of the papers presented. 

Elisha Qimron and John Strugnell, “An Unpublished Halakhic Letter 
from Qumran,” in Biblical Archaeology Today, Janet Amitai, ed. 
(Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1985), pp. 400-407; and a 
different article by the same name, Israel Museum Journal 4 (1985), 
pp. 9-12. 

1 9 

See Schiffman, “The Temple Scroll and the Systems of Jewish Law in 
the Second Temple Period,” in Temple Scroll Studies, George J. 
Brooke, ed. (Sheffield, UK: Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 
Press, 1989), pp. 239-255; “Miqsat Ma‘aseh Ha-Torah and the 
Temple Scroll," Revue de Qumran 14 (1990), pp. 435-457; “The 
Prohibition of the Skins of Animals in the Temple Scroll and Miqsat 
Ma‘aseh Ha-Torah," Proceedings of the Tenth World Congress of 
Jewish Studies, Division A (Jerusalem: World Union of Jewish 
Studies, 1990), pp. 191-198; “The New Halakhic Letter (4QMMT) 
and the Origins of the Dead Sea Sect,” Biblical Archaeologist 53, no. 2 
(June 1990), pp. 64-73; and the extremely important study of Y. 
Sussmann, “History of Halakha and the Dead Sea Scrolls — 
Preliminary Observations on Miqsat Ma‘aseh ha-Torah (4QMMT)” 
(Hebrew), Tarbiz 59 (1989-1990), pp. 11-76. 


Pesher Nahum 3-4 i 12; ii 2,8; iii 5; Pesher Psalms (A) 1-2 ii 17. 
Damascus Document 4:19, 8:12, 19:25,31. 

Hodayot 2:15,32; Pesher Nahum 3-4 i 2, 7; ii 2,4; iii 3,7; Damascus 
Document 1:18. 

Jacob Neusner, The Rabbinic Traditions about the Pharisees before 70, 
3 vols. (Leiden, Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1971). 

Pesher Nahum 3-4 iii 9; iv 1,3,6; Pesher Psalms (A) 1-2 ii 17. 

Norman Golb, “The Dead Sea Scrolls, A New Perspective,” The 
American Scholar (Spring 1989), pp. 177-207. 

A complete and methodical refutation of the Golb hypothesis is 
included in Florentino Garcia-Martinez, “A ‘Groningen’ Hypothesis of 
Qumran Origins and Early History,” to appear in the volume of 
Revue de Qumran devoted to the Groningen conference proceedings. 
The “Groningen” hypothesis, however, will also have to be seriously 
modified after the publication of MMT. 

See Garcia-Martinez, “Significado de los Manuscritos de Qumran para 
el Conocimiento de Jesucristo y del Cristianismo, ” Communio 22 
(1989), pp. 338-342. 

o "I 

See Shemaryahu Talmon, The World of Qumran from Within 
(Jerusalem and Leiden, Netherlands: Magnes Press and E. J. Brill, 
1989), pp. 71-141. 

William F. Albright, “New Light on Early Recensions of the Hebrew 
Bible,” Bulletin of American Schools of Oriental Research 140 (1955), 
pp. 27-33. 

Cross, “The History of the Biblical Text in Light of Discoveries in the 
Judaean Desert,” Harvard Theological Review 57 (1964), pp. 281- 
299; Ancient Library, pp. 120-145. 

See Emanuel Tov, “A Modern Textual Outlook Based on the Qumran 
Scrolls,” Hebrew Union College Annual 53 (1982), pp. 11-27; 
“Hebrew Biblical Manuscripts from the Judaean Desert: Their 
Contribution to Textual Criticism,” Journal of Jewish Studies 39 


(1988), pp. 5-37. 



Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 13.5, 9, 171-172. Ralph Marcus, transl. 
Loeb Classical Library (London: Heinemann/Cambridge, MA: Harvard 
University Press, 1966). 

Pliny, Natural History 2, 5.15, 73, H. Rackham, transl. Loeb Classical 
Library (London: Heinemann/Cambridge, MA: Harvard University 
Press, 1969). 

Pliny, Natural History 1 [1938], Preface, p. viii. 

Pliny, Natural History 1, p. ix. A possible source for the passage under 
discussion is Marcus Agrippa, who wrote before 12 B.C.; he is the 
first authority whom Pliny lists for the information in Book 5 (the 
lengthy catalogue of sources constitutes the first book of Pliny’s 
composition). See the comments of J. J. Tierney, “The Map of 
Agrippa,” Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, vol. 63, section C, 
no. 4 (Dublin: Hodges, Figgis, 1963), p. 155. I thank my colleague 
Stephen Goranson for this reference. 

The Dead Sea Scrolls of St. Mark’s Monastery, vol. II, fasc. 2: Plates and 
Transcription of the Manual of Discipline, ed. Millar Burrows (New 
Haven, CT: American Schools of Oriental Research, 1951). 

Josephus, Antiquities 13.5, 9, 171-173. 

All translations from Qumran texts are those from Geza Vermes, The 
Dead Sea Scrolls in English (Sheffield, UK: Journal for the Study of the 
Old Testament Press, 3rd ed., 1987); Vermes refers to the Manual of 
Discipline (IQS) as the Community Rule, 3.15-16. 

Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls, 3.21-23. 


Josephus, The Jewish War 2.8, 3, 122. H. St. J. Thackeray, transl. Loeb 
Classical Library (London: Heinemann/Cambridge, MA: Harvard 
University Press, 1976). 

! Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls, 6.17-22. 

Josephus, The Jewish War 2.8, 9, 147. 

1 Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls, 7.13. 

Todd Beall, Josephus’ Description of the Essenes Illustrated by the Dead 
Sea Scrolls, Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series 58 
(Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1988). 

' Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls, 14.12-13, cf. 9,10-16. 

See the valuable recent study of Carol Newsom, ‘“Sexually Explicit’ 
Literature from Qumran,” in The Hebrew Bible and Its Interpreters, 
William H. Propp, Baruch Halpern, and David Noel Freedman, eds. 
Biblical and Judaic Studies 1 (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1990), 
pp. 167-187. 

Frank Moore Cross, “The Early History of the Qumran Community,” in 
New Directions in Biblical Archaeology, David Noel Freedman and 
Jonas C. Greenfield, eds. (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1971), pp. 

See Elisha Qimron and John Strugnell, “An Unpublished Halakhic 
Letter from Qumran,” in Biblical Archaeology Today, Janet Amitai, 
ed. (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1985), pp. 400-407. 

Schiffman deals with this subject in Chapter 3. For a fuller elaboration, 
see his “The Temple Scroll and Systems of Jewish Law of the Second 
Temple Period,” in Temple Scroll Studies, George J. Brooke, ed. 
Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha Supplement Series 7 
(Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press, 1989), pp. 245-251. 

Emil Schiirer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus 
Christ, revised and edited by Vermes, Fergus Millar, and Matthew 
Black (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1979), p. 410, n. 31. MMT shows 
that the authors did in fact embrace one position — regarding the 
liquid stream discussed in the chapter appendix — that Schiirer thought 
was a joke. 


David Daube, in “On Acts 23: Sadducees and Angels,” Journal of 
Biblical Literature 109 (1990), pp. 493-497, has recently made the 
interesting suggestion that Acts 23:8 — the only ancient passage that 
says the Sadducees denied there were angels and spirits — means that 
the Sadducees rejected the notion of an angelic- or spirit-like interim 
phase for the departed prior to the general resurrection (which they 
also rejected). I am not convinced that he is correct and that his 
theory explains the Pharisaic jibe in Acts 23:9, but it would have been 
strange for the Sadducees to deny there were angels when their Bibles 
were full of them. It has been suggested that Acts 23:8 means only 
that they denied there were vast armies of angels while accepting the 
existence of a smaller number. 


The Mishnah, Herbert Danby, transl. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 
1933): with revisions. 

; The meaning of this obscure term has been debated at length. Philip 
Blackman (Mishnayoth, vol. 6: Order Taharoth [Gateshead, UK: 
Judaica Press, 2nd ed. 1977], p. 771) lists the following suggested 
interpretations: Jesus ben Sira, ben Laanah, the author of the Book of 
Tagla, Homer, or the apostate, heretic. 

See MMT, lines B18-23. 

See Joseph M. Baumgarten, “The Pharisaic-Sadducean Controversies 
about Purity and Qumran Texts,” Journal of Jewish Studies 31 (1980), 
pp. 161-163. 

Baumgarten first called attention to this agreement in “The Pharisaic- 
Sadducean Controversies,” pp. 163-164. 




1 . 

Solomon Schechter, Documents of Jewish Sectaries: Fragments of a 
Zadokite Work (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1910), 
Introduction, p. xviii. 

Ibid., p. xiii. 

A. Whigham Price, The Ladies of Castlebrae (Durham, UK: University of 
Durham Press, 1964), p. 1. 

Norman Bentwich, Solomon Schechter, A Biography (Philadelphia: The 
Jewish Publication Society of America, 1938), p. 130. 

Solomon Schechter, Studies in Judaism Second Series (Philadelphia: The 
Jewish Publication Society of America, 1908), p. 6. 

Ibid., p. 6. 

Ibid., p. 8. 

Ibid., p. 10. 

Solomon Schechter, Documents of Jewish Sectaries, pp. xv, xvi. 

Millar Burrows, The Dead Sea Scrolls (New York: Viking, 1955), p. 



Consistent with this theory, there may well have been other centers of 
Essenes in Palestine. Some scholars contend they have found 
archaeological evidence of Essene occupation on Mount Zion (see 
Bargil Pixner, “An Essene Quarter on Mt. Zion?” Studia 
Hierosolymitana in onore di P. Bellarmino Bagatti, Studium Biblicum 
Franciscanum Collectio Maior. N. 22-23 Vol I Studi Archeologici 
(Jerusalem: Franciscan Printing, 1979), pp. 245-284; and at Haifa 
(see Stephen Goranson, “On the Hypothesis That Essenes Lived on 
Mt. Carmel,” Revue de Qumran, Vol. 9, No. 4, 1978, pp. 563-567). 


Josephus notes that the Essenes “occupy no one city, but settle in 
large numbers in every town” (The Jewish War 2, 122-128 [4]). 

See William F. Albright, From the Stone Age to Christianity (Garden 
City, NY: Doubleday, 1957), p. 376. 

Solomon Schechter, Documents of Jewish Sectaries: Fragments of a 
Zadokite Work (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1910). 




Yigael Yadin, ed., The Temple Scroll, 3 vols. (Jerusalem: Israel 
Exploration Society, The Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew 
University of Jerusalem, The Shrine of the Book, 1977). 



Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 15.421. 

2 - Ibid., 15.420. 

3 - Ibid., 20.219. 

The exact size of the cubit referred to in the scroll is, unfortunately, 
unknown to us. I have assumed, somewhat arbitrarily, that the cubit is 
0.5 meter or 19.7 inches long, which is 10 to 15 percent longer or 
shorter than the length of the cubit according to various scholars. 

See Magen Broshi, “Estimating the Population of Jerusalem,” Biblical 


Archaeology Review, March 1978. 



Yigael Yadin, ed., The Temple Scroll, 3 vols. (Jerusalem: Israel 
Exploration Society, 1983). 



1 The question of Mosaic authority in the Temple Scroll is still much 
debated. Indeed, the name of Moses does not appear in the extant text 
of the Temple Scroll. Compare this with Deuteronomy 12-26. For 
this reason, Baruch Levine (“The Temple Scroll: Aspects of Its 
Historical Provenance and Literary Character,” Bulletin of the 
American Schoob of Oriental Research 232 (1978), pp. 5-23, 
especially pp. 17-21) denies any Mosaic authority for the Temple 
Scroll. His conclusion was challenged by Yadin (“Is the Temple Scroll 
a Sectarian Document?” in Gene M. Tucker and Douglas A. Knight, 
eds., Humanizing America’s Iconic Book: SBL Centennial Addresses 
1980 (Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1982), pp. 153-169), who relies on 
Temple Scroll 44:5 and 51:5-7, where Moses is indeed indirectly 
addressed. But Levine correctly demonstrates the tendency of the 
Temple Scroll to replace the traditional authority of Moses with God 
himself. Probably, this is to be interpreted as polemical — against any 
human authority in Jewish legal matters. 

In this Ben Zion Wachholder is wrong. See his book The Dawn of 
Qumran (Cincinnati, OH: Hebrew Union College Press, 1983), where 
he claims that the Temple Scroll “may have been intended to 
supersede not only the canonical Pentateuch but the other books of 
the Hebrew Scriptures as well” (p. 30). 

See Lawrence H. Schiffman, Sectarian Law in the Dead Sea Scrolls: 


Courts, Testimony and the Penal Code (Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 
1983), p. 77. 

The so-called Damascus Documents includes two different sections, the 
“Admonitions” represented by columns I- VIII and XIX-XX, and the 
“Laws” represented by columns XV-XVI and IX-XIV. Both sections 
were composed evidently by the Essenes, and fragments of both of 
them were also found in the Qumran caves. 

See Schiffman, op. cit., Scrolls: Courts, p. 77. 

Yadin recognized this problem and tried to resolve it with the 
suggestion that in other scrolls from Qumran we are always dealing 
with high priests who are mentioned in contexts relating to the End of 
Days with specific tides for them. But this is, at least, disputable: In 
those scrolls, the high priest at the end of days is called ha-kohen ha’- 
aharon or sometimes meshia’Aharon, while kohen ha-rosh seems to 
be the more usual tide used by the Qumran community, but strange to 
the Temple Scroll. 

The Cambridge edition of the Septuagint by Allen E. Brooke and 
Norman McLean, The Old Testament in Greek According to the Text of 
Codex Vatic anus (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1906- 
1911), vol. I, Partl-III. 

Yadin mistakenly thought these were references to other copies of the 
Temple Scroll. They were not that, but were simply fragments of 
scrolls of the same genre, or expansions within the Pentateuchal 
books themselves. Unfortunately, some of these are still unpublished, 
so they cannot be treated very thoroughly, even by scholars. 

9 - “Literary Sources of the Temple Scroll,” Harvard Theological Review, 
vol. 75 (1982), pp. 275-288. 

Dating the composition of the Temple Scroll to the second half of the 
fifth century B.C. results in some provocative suggestions for further 

First, the Pentateuch as we know it from our Bible must have been finally 
redacted at least a century before the composition of the Temple Scroll; at 
least a century would be needed to develop all the additions and alterations 
of the text used in the Temple Scroll. 

Second, some scholars already noticed that specific aspects of the Temple 
Scroll are closely related to the biblical books of Chronicles — for example, 


the status of the Levites. The state of development of the Hebrew language 
is similar in both Chronicles and in the Temple Scroll. These relationships 
and similarities are much easier to explain if both Chronicles and the 
Temple Scroll are contemporaneous compositions, but they would be 
puzzling if the Temple Scroll was composed about three centuries later, as 
supposed by Yadin and those who agree with him. 

Third, over the centuries, even Palestinian Jews no longer continued to 
regard the Temple Scroll as a canonical book, as the sixth book of the 
Torah, as it was in the mind of its author. Nevertheless, the preserved text 
of Yadin’s Temple Scroll demonstrates the way in which some priesdy 
families at the Jerusalem Temple interpreted, augmented, and used the 
canonical Pentateuch during the first century of the Second Temple period. 
This insight will enable us to understand much better the way priesdy 
teaching developed at the Jerusalem Temple before Ezra returned there. 




1 The English edition was published shordy before Yadin’s death: The 
Temple Scroll, 3 vols. (Israel Exploration Society: Jerusalem, 1983). 

Josephus, Contra Apionem 1.42 (ed. Loeb, trans. H. St. John 

3 - To be sure, it must be recognized that Josephus was writing a polemical 
work addressed to a Greek-speaking audience and does not hesitate on 
occasion to overstate or exaggerate. 

For a contemporary evaluation of the medieval variants in manuscripts 
of the Hebrew Bible and rabbinical literature, see M. H. Goshen- 
Gottstein, “Hebrew Biblical Manuscripts, Their History and Their 
Place in the HUBP Edition,” Biblica 48 (1967), pp. 243-290; and F. 
M. Cross, “The History of the Biblical Text in the Light of Discoveries 
in the Judean Desert,” Harvard Theological Review 57 (1964), pp. 
281-299, esp. 287-292. Both papers are republished in Cross and S. 
Talmon, Qumran and the History of the Biblical Text (Cambridge: 
Harvard University Press, 1975), pp. 42-89 (Goshen-Gottstein) and 


The history of the textual scholarship of this era, the emergence of the 
“one-recension” theory, the “archetype” theory, and the confusion of 
the two in subsequent scholarly discussion, is given definitive 
treatment by Goshen- Gottstein in the article listed above (note 4). 

In fact, the Nash Papyrus had already given a glimpse of an earlier stage 
of the Pentateuchal text before the fixing of the Rabbinic Recension, 
but its witness was largely ignored. See W. F. Albright, “A Biblical 
Fragment from the Maccabean Age: The Nash Papyrus,” Journal of 
Biblical Literature 56 (1937), pp. 145-176. 

A review of the biblical texts from Qumran and publication data on 
those that have been edited may be found in P. W. Skehan, “Qumran 
Literature,” Supplement on Dictionnaire de la Bible IX, cols. 805-828. 
Cf. F. M. Cross, The Ancient Library of Qumran, rev. ed. (Grand 
Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1980), pp. xi-xxi [Preface to German 
edition, supplementing 1961 English edition] . 

See P. Benoit, J. T. Milik, and R. de Vaux, Le grottes de Murabba‘at 
DJDII (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1961), pp. 75-85 (Plates XIX- 
XXIV), and 181-205 (Plates LVI-LXXIII). 

See Cross, “The Contribution of the Qumran Discoveries to the Study of 
the Biblical Text,” Israel Exploration Journal 16 (1966), pp. 81-95, 
and esp. 282, n. 21. 

1 Maccabees 1:56-58 contains an interesting reference to massive 
destruction of books in the Antiochan conflict and their replacement 
by Judah. 

The first evidence of the protorabbinic text in Samuel is found in the 
recension of the Theodotionic School, the so-called Kaige Recension. 
This systematic Greek recension from the end of the first century B.C. 
is inspired by principles similar to those that emerged in the era of 
Hillel and, no doubt, may be assigned to scholars of the same party 
that published the Rabbinic Recension. The Hebrew text used as the 
base of this revision is protorabbinic, to be sure, not identical with the 
fully fixed Pharisaic Bible at all points. Only the revision of the Kaige 
Recension by Aquila brought the Greek text fully in line with the 
Rabbinic Recension. 

1 9 

See Cross, “The History of the Biblical Text in the Light of Discoveries 
in the Judean Desert,” see note 4, p. 291. D. Barthelemy notes 
Josephus’ reference to increased contacts between the Palestinian 
Jewish community and the Babylonian Jewish community during the 


reign of Herod (Antiquities 17.24-27); see his Etudes d’histoire du 
texte de VAncien Testament (Fribourg: Editions Universitaires, 1978), 
pp. 24 If. 

This textual tradition has also been called “proto-Masoretic,” a 
designation that perhaps should be reserved for early exemplars of the 
Rabbinic Recension. 

Sukkah 20a. Hillel’s “establishment of the Torah” has, of course, been 
taken heretofore more generally to apply to his role in the 
interpretation of oral and written law, or even figuratively to his 
exemplary “living the Torah.” Cf. E. E. Urbach, The Sages, Their 
Concepts and Beliefs (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1975), P. 588 and n. 91 (p. 

J Josephus, Contra Apionem, op. cit., 1.37-41. 

See S. Leiman, The Canonization of the Hebrew Scripture: The 
Talmudic and Midrashic Evidence, Transactions of the Connecticut 
Academy of Arts and Sciences (Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1976), 
esp. pp. 72-120. 

Josephus is not alone in his testimony. We are now able to reconstruct 
an old canonical list, the common source of the so-called Bryennios 
List and the canon of Epiphanius, which must be dated to the end of 
the first century or the beginning of the second century of the 
Common Era. It is a list of biblical works “according to the Hebrews, ” 
and reflects the same twenty -two-book canon we find in Josephus, 
echoed in the independent canonical lists of Origen and Jerome. The 
twenty-four-book canon mentioned in Fourth Ezra (c. 100 A.D.) and 
in the rabbinic sources is doubtless identical in content but reckons 
Ruth and Lamentations separately. The writing of Ruth with Judges, 
Lamentations with Jeremiah is quite old, to judge from its survival in 
the Septuagint, and the explicit testimony of Origen to the Hebrew 

In the case of Ecclesiastes, it is not without interest that the book has 
proven to be much earlier than scholars generally have thought. A 
copy of the work from about 200 B.C. is known from Qumran, and a 
date for its composition as early as the Persian period is not excluded. 





See F. M. Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic (Cambridge, MA: 
Harvard University Press, 1976), p. 266 and references. 

For a detailed discussion (and photograph) of the fragment of Samuel, 
see Cross, “The Ammonite Oppression of the Tribes of Gad and 

Reuben: Missing Verses from 1 Samuel 11 Found in 4QSamuel a ,” in 
History, Historiography, and Interpretation, H. Tadmor and M. 
Weinfeld, eds. (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1983), pp. 148-158. 

See Alexander Rofe’s comments, Israel Exploration Journal 32 (1982), 
pp. 129-133. I have anticipated such views in the paper cited in note 
2 . 

See Cross, “Notes on the Ammonite Inscription from Tell Siran,” Bulletin 
of the American Schools of Oriental Research 212 (1973), esp. p. 15, 
where the title on the Tell Siran bottle and the Amman citadel 
inscription are discussed. 

George Foote Moore, Judaism in the First Centuries of the Christian Era: 
The Age of the Tannaim, Vol. I (Cambridge: Harvard University 
Press, 1962), p. 127 

The treatment of Jewish mysticism has undergone a similar 
transformation in contemporary scholarship; it is now regarded as a 
major component of Jewish history owing largely to the researches of 
Gershom Scholem and his students. 



Most modern English versions translate this troublesome verb as “abide” 
or “remain.” This is simply a guess from the context. I read the verb 
(Hebrew yadon) as a perfecdy normal formation from the root dnn, 


“to be strong.” This same root appears in the name of an Israelite 
village in the Judean hill country, Dannah (Joshua 15:49). The name 
of this village means “stronghold. ” The root dnn is therefore attested 
in biblical Hebrew, both in the placename and in Genesis 6:3. 

For a more detailed discussion of what follows, with complete 
references, see Ronald S. Hendel, “Of Demigods and the Deluge: 
Toward an Interpretation of Genesis 6:1-4,” Journal of Biblical 
Literature 106 (1987), pp. 13-26. 

Julius Wellhausen, Prolegomena to the History of Israel, J. S. Black and 
A. Menzies, transl. (Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black, 1885), p. 

See also Psalm 82:6 (bene elyon) and Daniel 3:25 (bar elahin). 

The Septuagint reads literally “the angels of God” (aggelon theou); this, 
however, is the usual and normal Septuagint translation of the 
Hebrew “Sons of God.” 

Arslan Tash (KAI 27.11) and Karatepe (KAI 26. A. III. 19). Translations of 
the Karatepe inscription and one of the inscriptions from Arslan Tash 
may be found in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Related to the Old 
Testament, James B. Pritchard, ed. (Princeton: Princeton University 
Press, 3rd ed., 1969), p. 654 (Karatepe), and p. 658 (Arslan Tash). 

Siegfried H. Horn, “The Amman Citadel Inscription,” BASOR 193 
(1969), pp. 2-13. 

For other descriptions of Yahweh’s divine assembly, see 1 Kings 22:19, 
Isaiah 6, Psalm 82, and, from a later era, Daniel 7:9-10. References or 
allusions to the divine assembly are found in many texts, including 
Jeremiah 23:18 and the plural addresses (“let us . . .’’or “like one of 
us . . .”) in Genesis 1:26, 3:22, and 11:7. For more discussion, see E. 
Theodore Mullen, Jr., The Assembly of the Gods, Harvard Semitic 
Monographs 24 (Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1980). 

Some of my readings in this passage diverge from the traditional 
translations for textual and linguistic reasons. For a discussion of this 
passage, see Walther Zimmerli, Ezekiel 2, Hermeneia (Philadelphia: 
Fortress Press, 1983), pp. 168, 176. 

In 2 Samuel 21 it is a warrior named Elhanan who defeats Goliath. This 
story is more familiar to us in 1 Samuel 17, where David is Goliath’s 


opponent. This is an example of a story that “floats” in oral tradition 
from a lesser hero to a greater hero. 

Moses: Joshua 12:4-6, 13:12; Joshua: Joshua 11:21-22; Caleb: Joshua 
15:14, Judges 1:20. 

12 - 2 Samuel 21:18-22; 1 Chronicles 20:4-8. 

Note that the giant aboriginal inhabitants of Seir, Ammon, and Gaza 
are also utterly annihilated, generally by Yahweh (Deuteronomy 2:12, 
20-23). See also Deuteronomy 9:1-3; Amos 2-9. 

Compare Mario Liverani’s remarks on the function of the Amorites in 
Israelite tradition, The Amorites in Peoples of Old Testament Times, D. 
J. Wiseman, ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973). 

W. G. Lambert and Alan R. Millard, Atrahasis: the Babylonian Story of 
the Flood (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969), pp. 66-67, 72-73. 

Several scholars have suggested that the increase of population referred 
to in Genesis 6:1 is a vestige of the theme in Atrahasis of human 
overpopulation. See Alexander Heidel, The Gilagamesh Epic and Old 
Testament Parallels (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1949), pp. 225- 
226; Alan R. Millard, “A New Babylonian ‘Genesis’ Story,” Tyndale 
Bulletin 18 (1967), pp. 11-12; Claus Westermann, Genesis 1/1, BKAT 
(Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener, 1974), pp. 500-501; see also H. 
Schwarzbaum, “The Overcrowded Earth,” Numen 4 (1957), pp. 59- 
74. The connection seems rather forced, however, since an increase of 
population is to be expected in myths of primeval humanity. The 
distinctive features of the Atrahasis myth — excess of population and 
its accompanying noise — are both absent in the Israelite tradition. For 
a nuanced view of the contrast between the Israelite and 
Mesopotamian traditions, see William L. Moran, “Atrahasis: The 
Babylonian Story of the Flood,” Biblica 52 (1971), p. 61. 



Andre Dupont-Sommer, The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Preliminary Survey 
(Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1952), p. 99 (the author’s preface is dated 


July 14, 1950). He felt the need to defend these striking formulations 
in a later book; see his The Jewish Sect of Qumran and the Essenes: 
New Studies on the Dead Sea Scrolls (New York: Macmillan, 1955 
[transl. from French 1953 edition]), pp. 160-162. Note, “I drew 
attention to these comparisons in the Dead Sea Scrolls. In my desire to 
draw attention to this unexpected fact, which the new texts seemed to 
disclose, I sketched out a rapid parallel which was intended to 
stimulate the curiosity of the reader, without pretending to solve a 
most complex problem at the price of oversimplification” (p. 160). 
As he said in this later publication, the resemblance between Jesus 
and the Teacher “. . . is far from being complete” (p. 161). 

Edmund Wilson, “The Scrolls from the Dead Sea,” The New Yorker 
(May, 1955), pp. 45-131. The book was published under the same 
title in the same year (London: Collins). It remained on best-seller lists 
for some time. In fairness, it should be said that Wilson was critical of 
Dupont-Sommer’s use of some passages from the Habakkuk 
Commentary on the grounds that they referred to the Wicked Priest, 
the archenemy of the Teacher, not to the Teacher himself (e.g., The 
Scrolls from the Dead Sea, pp. 92-93). But he does add unusually 
strong words of praise for the scholar of the Sorbonne (New Yorker, 
pp. 106-108). 

Wilson, The Scrolls from the Dead Sea, p. 102. 

4 - Ibid., p. 104. 

:: Ibid., p. 114. 

Millar Burrows, The Dead Sea Scrolls (New York: Viking, 1955). 

Ibid., p. 327. 

8 - Ibid., p. 328. 

Ibid., p. 343. In the same context he claims one need not think that any 
of the New Testament writers had ever heard of the Qumran group 
(pp. 342-343). 

Krister Stendahl, ed., The Scrolls and the New Testament (New York: 
Harper & Row, 1957). All of the papers except two (and Stendahl’s 
introduction) had already been published between 1950 and 1955. 
Actually, two of the essays are not centrally about Qumran and the 
New Testament: Joseph Fitzmyer’s on the Ebionites (though he was 


responding to J. L. Teicher’s claim that the Qumran sect was Ebionite 
— a Jewish Christian group) and Nahum Glatzer’s on Hillel the Elder. 

Stendahl, “An Introduction and a Perspective,” in The Scrolls and the 
New Testament, pp. 16-17. 

-- The quotation is from Rudolf Bultmann, Theology of the New 
Testament, 2 vols. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1951-1955), 
vol. 1, p. 42. 

Frank M. Cross, The Ancient Library of Qumran and Modem Biblical 
Studies (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, reprint, 1980), pp. 
203-204. A revised edition was issued in 1961; a German translation 
in 1967; and a reprint in 1980. References to the book are to this 
latest version. 

Mention should also be made of the very brief statement that J. T. Milik 
devotes to the subject in his Ten Years of Discovery in the Wilderness of 
Judaea, Studies in Biblical Theology 26 (London: SCM Press, 1959 
[French edition, 1957]). He notes literary, institutional, and doctrinal 
parallels and argues that Essene influence on the early Church increased 
after the time of Jesus and the first disciples, especially in Jewish 
Christianity: “Slightly later we find in one part of the Church Essene 
influence almost taking over and submerging the authentically Christian 
doctrinal element; indeed, it may be considered responsible for the break 
between the Judaeo-Christians and the Great Church” (pp. 142-143). 

Herbert Braun, Qumran und das Neue Testament (Tubingen: J.C.B. 
Mohr [Paul Siebeck], 1966). 

See, for example, Geza Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls: Qumran in 
Perspective (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1977), pp. 211-221. 

See, for example, Robert H. Eisenman, Maccabees, Zadokites, 
Christians and Qumran: A New Hypothesis of Qumran Origins, Studie 
Post-Biblica 34 (Leiden, Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1983). 

Barbara Thiering, Redating the Teacher of Righteousness, Australian 
and New Zealand Studies in Theology and Religion (Sydney: 
Theological Explorations, 1979); and The Gospels and Qumran: A 
New Hypothesis, Australian and New Zealand Studies in Theology and 
Religion (Sydney: Theological Explorations, 1981). 

J. L. Teicher, “The Dead Sea Scrolls — Documents of the Jewish- 


Christian Sect of Ebionites,” Journal of Jewish Studies 3 (1951), pp. 

Regarding Eisenman, see Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, The Dead 
Sea Scrolls Deception (London: Jonathan Cape, 1991). Also see 
Chapter 22. 

20 - Translation of Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls in English 
(Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin Books, 1962), as are all other 
quotations from the scrolls, unless otherwise indicated. 

Cross (The Ancient Library of Qumran, p. 233) notes that the hmbqr 
and the pgyd (usually translated as episkopos in the Greek version of 
the Hebrew Bible) appear to be the same individual. 

Joseph Fitzmyer, “The Qumran Scrolls and the New Testament after 
Forty Years,” Revue de Qumran 13 (1988), pp. 613-615. 

Jose O’Callaghan, “Papiros neotestamentarios en la cueva 7 de 
Qumran?" Biblica 53 (1972), pp. 91-100. The scroll 7Q5, supposedly 
the best example, is said to offer letters from Mark 6:52-53 — twenty 
legible letters in all. The texts are, however, extremely difficult to 
read, and other identifications have been proposed for them. For the 
texts and other bibliography, see Florentino Garcfa-Martinez, “Lista de 
MSS procedentes de Qumran,” Henoch 11 (1989), p. 223. 

For bibliography and discussion of this point, see Braun, Qumran und 
das Neue Testament, vol. 1, pp. 201-204. As Fitzmyer has pointed 
out, 2 Corinthians 6:18 cites 2 Samuel 7:14, a passage that is also 
quoted in 4QFlorilegium (“4Q Testimonia and the New Testament,” 
Theological Studies 18 [1957], pp. 534-535). 

’• Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 15.10,4; sec. 371. Translation of H. 
St. J. Thackeray, Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge, MA: Harvard 
University Press/London: William Heinemann, 1978). 

See Kurt Schubert, “The Sermon on the Mount and the Qumran Texts” 
in Stendahl, ed., The Scrolls and the New Testament, pp. 118-128. 

The letters MMT stand for the Hebrew words miqsat ma‘aseh ha-Torah 
(some of the deeds of the Torah), a phrase found toward the end of 
the work. 


William H. Brownlee (“John the Baptist in the New Light of Ancient 
Scrolls” in Stendahl, ed., The Scrolls and the New Testament, pp. BB- 
SS) discussed these issues at length and proposed that John may have 
been raised by the Essenes, who, according to Josephus, adopted the 
children of others and taught them their principles while they were 
still young (The Jewish War 2.8,2 [sec. 120]). 

For the text and extensive discussion and comparison of it with New 

Testament passages, see P. J. Kobelski, Melchizedek and Mekhiresa c , 
The Catholic Biblical Quarterly Monograph Series 10 (Washington, 
DC: Catholic Biblical Association, 1981). Here I leave out of 
consideration the more speculative suggestions of scholars who have 
found James the Just to be important in the scrolls (Eisenman), Jesus 
to be the Teacher of Righteousness, or the aposde Paul the Wicked 
Priest (Teicher). 

1 The texts have been published, translated and analyzed by Carol 
Newsom, Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice: A Critical Edition, Harvard 
Semitic Studies 27 (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1985); see her comments 
on pp. 37, 133, 144. See also Fitzmyer, “The Qumran Scrolls and the 
New Testament,” pp. 618-619. Some caution is in order because 
Melchizedek’s name is never fully preserved in any of the fragmentary 
remains of these manuscripts. 

Josephus (The Jewish War 2.8,3 [sec. 122]) and Pliny the Elder 
(Natural History 5.15) also refer to the community property of the 

There is a dittography (unintentional repetition of letters or words 
while copying) in lines 5-6. 

33 ’ Translation of Lawrence Schiffman, The Eschatological Community of 
the Dead Sea Scrolls: A Study of the Rule of the Congregation, SBL 
Monograph Series 38 (Adanta: Scholars Press, 1989), pp. 53-55. 

1 Ibid., p. 67. 

An early and important study of this parallel is Karl Georg Kuhn’s “The 
Lord’s Supper and the Communal Meal at Qumran” in Stendahl, ed., 
The Scrolls and the New Testament, pp. 65-93. 

For a brief and precise presentation of the evidence and bibliography 
for this debate, see Fitzmyer, The Dead Sea Scrolls: Major Publications 
and Tools for Study, Sources for Biblical Study 20 (Atlanta: Scholars 


Press, rev. ed. 1990), pp. 180-186. 

Annie Jaubert, The Date of the Last Supper (Staten Island, NY: Alba 
House, 1965). 

Fitzmyer, “The Qumran Scrolls and the New Testament,” p. 617. The 

text has been given the siglum 4QpsDan [pseudo-Daniel] A a (4Q246) 
and dates from the last third of the first century B.C. See Fitzmyer, 
“The Contribution of Qumran Aramaic to the Study of the New 
Testament,” in his A Wandering Aramean: Collected Aramaic Essays, 
SBL Monograph Series 25 (Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1979), pp. 
90-94, 102-107, for more detail (originally published in New 
Testament Studies 20 [1973-1974], pp. 382-407). See also Chapter 

See Fitzmyer, “The Contribution of Qumran Aramaic,” p. 98. 

Karl Elliger, Studien zum Habakuk-Kommentar vom Toten Meer 
(Beitrage zur historischen Theologie 15; Tubingen: J.C.B. Mohr [Paul 
Siebeck], 1953) pp. 150-164. The wording of the assumptions given 
here is a paraphrase of what he wrote. 

1 Joel 2:28 (3:1 in Hebrew). 

Josephus, The Jewish War 2.8,10-11; sec. 153-154. Josephus also 
notes their belief in the immortality of the soul in his Antiquities of the 
Jews 18.1,5; sec. 18. 

Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies 9.27,1. 

If so, we would conclude that Josephus distorted Essene beliefs, as he 
does Pharisaic beliefs about the resurrection, in order to appeal to the 
tastes of his larger, Greek-reading audience, to whom it may have 
seemed peculiar. 

Emile Puech, “Les Esseniens et la vie future,” Le Monde de la Bible 4 
(1978), pp. 38-40. The quotation is my translation of his French 
rendering (p. 40). The text in question is apparently 4Q521 (so 
Garcfa-Martinez, “Lista de MSS procedentes de Qumran,” p. 210). 

Josephus reports that Herod favored the Essenes (Antiquities of the 
Jews 15.10,4 [sec. 372]). See Yigael Yadin, “The Temple Scroll — The 
Longest and Most Recendy Discovered Dead Sea Scroll,” Biblical 


Archaeology Review, September/October 1984, p. 48. 

See the discussion in Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls, p. 220. 

The name “Bethusians” is often suspected of being a reference to the 



Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 18:119. 

2 - Ibid., 18:116-7. 

Josephus, The Jewish War, 2:120. 

Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 18:117. 

5 - Ibid., 18:118. 

Josephus, The Jewish War, 1:78-80; 2:112-113; Antiquities of the Jews, 



See Chapter 3. Cf. also L. H. Schiffman, “Confessionalism and the Study 
of the Dead Sea Scrolls,” Jewish Studies 31 (1991), pp. 3-14. 

For a comprehensive discussion of this entire period, see Schiffman, 
From Text to Tradition, A History of Second Temple and Rabbinic 
Judaism (Hoboken, NJ: Ktav, 1991). 


See J. Neusner, From Politics to Piety, the Emergence of Pharisaic Judaism 
(Englewood, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1973). 


Note that Avot 1:1 ascribes this notion to “the men of the Great 
Assembly,” the last of which is said to have lived c. 250 B.C.E. 

See Schiffman, The FLalakhah at Qumran (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1975), pp. 

M. P. Horgan, Pesharim: Qumran Interpretations of Biblical Books, CBQ 
Monograph Series 8 (Washington, DC: Catholic Biblical Association, 
1979). pp. 160-162. 

For bibliography, see Horgan, Pesharem, p. 184. 

B. Z. Wacholder, “A Qumran Attack on Oral Exegesis? The Phrase 
’asher be-talmud shegaram in 4Q Pesher Nahum,” Revue de Qumran 5 
(1964-1966), pp. 575-578. 

F. M. Cross, “The Early History of the Qumran Community,” New 
Directions in Biblical Archaeology, ed. D. N. Freedman, J. C. 
Greenfield (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1971), pp. 70-89. 

See the extremely important article of Y. Sussmann, “The History of 
Halakha and the Dead Sea Scrolls — Preliminary Observations on 
Miqsat Ma‘ase Ha-Torah (4QMMT)” (Hebrew), Tarbiz 59 (1989/90), 
pp. 11-76. 

Cf. Schiffman, “The Temple Scroll and the Systems of Jewish Law of 
the Second Temple Period,” Temple Scroll Studies, ed. G. J. Brooke 
(Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1989), pp. 245-251, and Schiffman, “Miqsat 
Ma‘aseh Ha-Torah and the Temple Scroll," Revue de Qumran 14 
(1990), pp. 435-457. 

See Chapter 3 and “The New Halakhic Letter (4QMMT) and the 
Origins of the Dead Sea Sect,” Biblical Archaeologist 53, no. 2 (June 
1990), pp. 64-73. 

Further evidence of the political role of the Pharisees is found in the 
scrolls as well, but it will have to remain beyond the scope of this 
essay. In the scrolls we find evidence of the falling-out which 
eventually separated the Pharisees from the Hasmonean dynasty as the 
Hasmoneans became progressively Hellenized. In this respect, the 


scrolls confirm evidence found in Josephus and rabbinic literature. 



See K. G. Kuhn, “Les rouleaux de cuivre de Qumran,” Revue Biblique 61 
(1954), pp. 193-205. 

The official publication is J. T. Milik, R. de Vaux, and H. W. Baker, “Le 
rouleau de cuivre provenant de la grotte 3Q (3Q15),” pp. 201-302 in 
M. Baillet, J. T. Milik, and R. de Vaux, Les "Petites Grottes" de 
Qumran, Discoveries in the Judaean Desert of Jordan 3 (Oxford: 
Clarendon Press, 1962). This is hereafter cited as DJD 3. 

John Allegro, The Treasure of the Copper Scroll (Garden City, NY: 
Doubleday, 1960; 2d edition: 1964). 

See the extremely negative review of Allegro’s book by Roland de Vaux, 
the chief archaeologist of Qumran and its caves, in Revue Biblique 68 
(1961), pp. 466-467. 

The Mishnah is an early rabbinic text assembled in about 200 A.D. 

6 DJD 3, p. 282. 

Milik, DJD 3, p. 262. 

See, for example, E. Ullendorff, “The Greek Letters of the Copper 
Scroll,” Vetus Testament 11 (1961), pp. 227-228. 

The most vigorous spokesman for this position is Norman Golb. See 
“The Problem of the Origin and Identification of the Dead Sea 
Scrolls,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 124 
(1980), pp. 1-24; “Who Hid the Dead Sea Scrolls?” Biblical 
Archaeologist 48 (1985), pp. 68-82. 

As, for example, in the Mishnaic tractate Tevul Yom 4.4. 


As recognized by Manfred R. Lehmann (“Identification of the Copper 
Scroll Based on Its Technical Terms,” Revue de Qumran 6 [1964], 
pp. 97-105), who cites a Tosefta, Shevi’it 7.3,5 and 8.1. 

Cf Lehmann, op. cit., pp. 99-100. 

Lehmann, op. cit., p. 99. 

An important exception is B. Z. Lurie, The Copper Scroll from the 
Judaean Desert Publications of the Israel Bible Research Society 14 
(Jerusalem: Kiryat-Sepher, 1963) (in Hebrew). 

See F. M. Cross, “Excursus on the Palaeographical Dating of the 
Copper Document,” in DJD 3, pp. 217-221. 



See Andre Lemaire, “Fragments from the Book of Balaam Found at Deir 
Alia,” Biblical Archaeology Review, September/October 1985. 

Texts of phylacteries (tephillin) and mezuzoth were written on sheets 
rather than on scrolls. Tephillin are black leather boxes containing 
scriptural passages that are bound on the left hand and on the 
forehead by black leather strips and are worn for the morning services 
on all days of the year except Sabbaths and scriptural holy days. See 
the article by L. I. Rabinowitz, “Tefellin,” in Encyclopedia Judaica, 
vol. 15 (Jerusalem: Keter Publishing House, 1972), cols. 898-904. A 
mezuzah is a parchment scroll affixed to the doorposts of rooms in 
Jewish homes. See the article by Rabinowitz, “Mezuzah,” in 
Encyclopedia Judaica, vol. 11, cols. 1474-1477. In addition, a text 
known as 4Q Testimonia, consisting of a small collection of 
quotations, was also written on a sheet, rather than on a scroll. To 
make a scroll, sheets were sewn (in the case of parchment) or pasted 
(in the case of papyrus) together. 

Precisely when the posts were introduced we do not know. But a 
fragment of a disc presumably attached to a post was found in the 


synagogue at Ein Gedi, dated to the third to sixth centuries A.D. See 
Hershel Shanks, Judaism in Stone (New York: Harper & 

Row/Washington, DC: Biblical Archaeology Society, 1979), p. 134. 

Maurice Baillet, Qumran Grotte 4, III (4Q 482-520), Discoveries in the 
Judaean Desert, vol. VII (Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1982). 

There is, of course, a portion of this scroll, constituted by the fragments 
44-59, that stuck together when the remains of this scroll came to the 
museum. Baillet tried to get to the original order of these fragments 
(see p. 242 of his edition and plates LXIII-LXV). But his results do not 
appear to be correct. 




Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception 
(London: Jonathan Cape, 1991). To be published in the United States 
by Summit Books (a subsidiary of Simon and Schuster) in January 

• The New Jerome Biblical Commentary states: 

Catholic critical scholarship from DAS [Divino afflante Spiritu] until 1970 
was marked by intensive growth. . . . 

Catholic biblical scholars received official church encouragement through 
two primary documents, the PBC’s [Pontifical Biblical Commission’s] 
“Instruction on the Historical Truth of the Gospels” (1964) and Vatican II’s 
Dei Verbum (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, 1965). The 
former document, in particular, recognized that the Gospels consisted of 
several layers of tradition and thus are not literal or chronological accounts 
of the life of Jesus. This position confirmed the results of biblical 
scholarship while setting the stage for further developments in the 
scientific, critical study of the NT [New Testament] among Catholic 
biblical scholars. . . . 

Catholic NT scholarship increasingly made its own mark in the study of 
the NT. It succeeded in convincing more intelligent Catholics that the 
ultraconservative biblical positions of the past were no longer tenable and 


that the new approaches had values of their own which could feed worship 
and spirituality. It incorporated the results of scientific NT study into the 
discussion of issues with dogmatic implications, e.g., the limitations of 
Jesus’ knowledge regarding himself, the future, and the church; 
qualifications in the reliability of Acts as a guide to how the church 
historically emerged; the extent of creativity exercised in the formation of 
the Gospel tradition; the limited historicity of the infancy narratives. 

John S. Kselman, S.S., and Ronald D. Witherup, S.S., “Modern New 
Testament Criticism” (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1990), pp. 

3- “Leading Dead Sea Scroll Scholar Denounces Delay,” Biblical 
Archaeology Review, March/April 1990. 

Joseph A. Fitzmyer, “A Visit with M. Jozef Milik,” Biblical Archaeology 
Review, July/August 1990. 

John Allegro, The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross (Garden City, NY: 
Doubleday, 1970). 

Emile Puech, “Un Hymn Essenien en Partie Retrouve et les Beatitudes,” 
Revue de Qumran 13, nos. 49-52 (October 1988). 


About the Authors 


Formerly professor of New Testament at Chicago Theological 
Seminary. Taught New Testament and Ancient Judaism at the 
University of Tubingen. Now retired. 


Curator of the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem, where most of the 
intact Dead Sea Scrolls are kept. Directed archaeological excavations 
on Mt. Zion and elsewhere in Jerusalem. Member of the Dead Sea 
Scroll advisory committee of the Israel Antiquities Authority. 


Hancock Professor of Hebrew and Other Oriental Languages, Harvard 
University. Director of Harvard Semitic Museum. Canaanite Myth 
and Hebrew Epic (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1973), 
The Ancient Library of Qumran and Modern Biblical Studies (rev. ed. 
Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1980), and coeditor of Scrolls 
from Qumran Cave I (Jerusalem: Albright Institute of Archaeological 
Research and Shrine of the Book, 1972). Member of original editing 
team of Cave 4 texts from Qumran. Former president of the 
American Schools of Oriental Research and of the Society of Biblical 


Formerly professor of Religion at Oberlin College. Staff archaeologist 


at Tell el-Hesi excavations in Israel. Author of Discovering the Biblical 
World (Maplewood, NJ: Hammond, 1975). Deceased. 


Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Southern Methodist 
University. Author of Parallel Themes in the Ugaritic Epic Poems and 
the Hebrew Bible. Work in progress: The Text of Genesis 1-11: 
Masoretic Text, Samaritan Text, Septuagint, and Qumran. 


Journalist with Ha’aretz, a leading Tel Aviv newspaper. 


Writer, newspaperman, film maker, public relations director, and 
Dead Sea Scrolls buff. 


William Foxwell Albright Professor of Biblical and Ancient Near 
Eastern Studies at The Johns Hopkins University. Author of 
commentaries on I Samuel and II Samuel for the Anchor Bible series. 
Preparing a new edition and translation of the Copper Scroll from 
Qumran for Princeton University Press. Formerly president of the 
American Schools of Oriental Research. 


Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University. 
Author of Who Was a Jew? Rabbinic and Halakhic Perspectives on the 
Jewish-Christian Schism (Hoboken, NJ: Ktav, 1985), Text and 


Tradition, A History of Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism 
(Hoboken, NJ: Ktav, 1990), and editor of Archaeology and History in 
the Dead Sea Scrolls (Sheffield with ASOR, 1990). 1989/90 Fellow of 
the Institute for Advanced Studies at the Hebrew University of 
Jerusalem dealing with the Dead Sea Scrolls. Recent recipient of 
editorial assignment of Cave 4 texts from Qumran. 


Founder and editor of Biblical Archaeology Review and Bible Review. 
President of The Biblical Archaeology Society, publisher of A 
Preliminary Edition of the Unpublished Dead Sea Scrolls — The Hebrew 
and Aramaic Texts from Cave Four — Fascicle One (1991) and A 
Facsimile Edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls — Volumes I and II (1991). 
Author of The City of David: A Guide to Biblical Jerusalem 
(Jerusalem: Bazak, 1973) and Judaism in Stone: The Archaeology of 
Ancient Synagogues (New York: Harper & Row, 1979). Editor of 
Ancient Israel: A Short History from Abraham to the Roman 
Destruction of the Temple (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 


Professor of New Testament Science at the University of Gottingen. 
Director of the Qumran Research Center at the University of 
Gottingen. Author of numerous articles on Qumran and problems of 
the historical Jesus. Preparing a dictionary of the nonbiblical 
Qumran texts. 


Professor of Old Testament Studies at the University of Notre Dame. 
Author of Enoch and the Growth of an Apocalyptic Tradition 
(Washington, D.C.: Catholic Biblical Association, 1984) and The Book 
of Jubilees (Leuvan, Belgium: Peeters, 1989). Editor of Jubilees texts 
from Qumran Cave 4. Chair of the Ancient Manuscripts Committee 
of the American Schools of Oriental Research. 



Acquired four Dead Sea Scrolls from Cave 1 for Israel and later the 
Temple Scroll. Until his death in 1984, he was Israel’s leading 
archaeologist. Directed archaeological excavations at Masada and 
Hazor. Also led an expedition to search for scrolls in caves by the 
Dead Sea. Served as head of the Department of Archaeology and later 
of the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University in 
Jerusalem. Edited The Scroll of the War of the Sons of Light against 
the Sons of Darkness [the War Scroll from Qumran] (Oxford: Oxford 
University Press, 1962), Tefillin from Qumran (Jerusalem: The Israel 
Exploration Society and the Shrine of the Book, 1969), and The 
Temple Scroll (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1983). Author 
of The Message of the Scrolls (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1957) 
and popular books on Masada, Hazor, the Bar Kokhba documents, 
and the Temple Scroll. 


Sources and Dates of Original 

Chapter 1: Biblical Archaeology Review, December 1975. 

Chapter 2: Biblical Archaeology Review, March 1977. 

Chapter 3: Bible Review, October 1990. 

Chapter 4: Bible Review, April 1991. 

Chapter 5: Biblical Archaeology Review, September/October 1982. 
Chapter 6: Biblical Archaeology Review, September/October 1982. 
Chapter 7: Biblical Archaeology Review, September/October 1984. 
Chapter 8: Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December 1987. 
Chapter 9: Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December 1987. 
Chapter 10: Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December 1987. 
Chapter 11: Bible Review, Summer 1985. 

Chapter 12: Bible Review, Fall 1985. 

Chapter 13: Bible Review, Summer 1987. 

Chapter 14: Bible Review, December 1991/February 1992. 

Chapter 15: Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April 1990. 

Chapter 16: Bible Review, December 1990. 

Chapter 17: Bible Review, June 1992. 

Chapter 18: Bible Review, August 1992. 

Chapter 19: Bible Review, February 1988. 

Chapter 20: Biblical Archaeology Review, January /February 1991. 
Chapter 21: Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April 1991. 

Chapter 22: Biblical Archaeology Review, November/December 1991.